It’s the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the temperatures are dropping down under the Equator. June also means a new 12 Contests – this time with Kathy Schmitz!
Not everyone likes New Year’s resolutions. But others appreciate the opportunity to start the year anew, with bright eyes and a clean slate. We asked Moda designers to share their resolutions with us, and with you. We’d also love to hear YOUR resolutions—let us hear about them in the Comment section. (And I don’t know about you, but my idea of a great New Year’s Eve/Day includes at least a little bit of time with fabric, needles, and thread. Wishing you a Happy New Year and Happy Sewing!)
Janet: Apart from the usual eat healthy/ exercise resolutions (that I’ve been happily ignoring for years now) mine is to slow down and learn to relax. I choose a word for the year and 2016’s will be ‘savour’: Savour (v.) to enjoy and appreciate something to the full, especially by lingering over it.
Betsy: Here is my resolution for 2016 along with the usual losing weight and getting more exercise…learn EQ7.
Also, to have a better relationship with time. I’m always down to the last minute meeting deadlines. I’m always busy. Time gets away from me. I would like to beat the clock, with time to spare.
Lynne: My goal for the Christmas break was to finish cataloging my newest antique quilt purchases. The pile on the chair is about half of what needs to be photographed from this last year. Since it’s quickly approaching 2016, it’s made the list of New Year’s resolutions.
Luke Haynes: LOTS of resolutions, mostly about what not to overeat and to take more naps. I am joining a climbing gym in January. I will also be working on smaller projects. (Personally, I am not one for resolutions. I try and do that throughout the year, for better or worse.)
Sherri McConnell (on the left): I do have a big quilting resolution: to get my scraps under control by making one scrap quilt each quarter! I’ll be tracking my progress on my blog and IG to keep myself motivated!
Kaari Meng: My New Year’s resolutions include taking more quilting classes—hopefully with Heather Jones and Denyse Schmidt! I am also learning how to ride a cutting horse and plan on continuing my lessons twice a week. And finally, I started stitching every morning for an hour and would like to stick to it!
Jan: My husband said that I should resolve to go to more fabra-holic meetings. Unfortunately my fabra-holic meetings take place at the local quilt shop.
Kathy: I want to work on a wall hanging which will simply be for my enjoyment! The backing will be flannel so that I can turn it over and use it as a small design wall when I need one. For the past year I have just had the flannel hanging there. Not too pretty! Time to get started!
Pat: I have always set up goals for my year. Like many other, some I reach, some I…well…some I add back for another try! 2016 is going to be a very fun year, I have a lot of projects planned, teaching events, sew alongs for you, books, fabrics…and goals! Sometimes I actually try and make goals that are realistic and attainable, even if they are rolled back into the mix! So here we go, for the whole world to see:
I am so excited for 2016, please join me!
Beth Snyder (fourth from the left, above): My New Year’s Resolution is to spend at least 10 minutes a day in my sewing room, even if that’s just tidying up or playing with fabric. I know to some people, 10 minutes sounds like nothing, but with a busy family and business, just getting into the room will keep my creativity flowing. Besides, I know perfectly well once I get in there, I’ll probably sit down and actually accomplish something. Even if it’s 10 minutes at a time, that can add up!
Kate: Sewing: I’d love to broaden my skills and learn how to sew curves. Personal: I hope to read more, paint more, and sew more. To help make those goals easier, we canceled our cable TV *today*!
Deb: My New Year’s Resolutions are: To get moved into our new home (next door to our grandsons!) and new community. And of course….eat better and exercise more!
Anne Sutton: One of my resolutions for 2016 is to learn a new craft. Every year I beg my friend Barbara for more pairs of knitted socks. She’s 82 and it’s getting harder for her to knit, so I’ve decided it’s time to learn. We have a knitting day planned for January 2. My two granddaughters, Alyssa and Michaela, are coming over and Barbara’s going to teach us how to knit socks. We are all so excited about this! I’ve ordered fingering yarn and circular needles. We all picked out our favorite colors and hopefully we’ll have three more knitters in the world as of Saturday! I’ve attached a photo of socks Barbara’s knitted for me.
I also want to spend more time on embroidery and wool applique. I’m passionate about both of these, but unless I actually schedule time for them, something else always comes up. Seems to me these would be great evening projects, while I’m watching all the shows I’ve taped.
Corey: My resolution isn’t too fancy and you’re probably hearing a lot of this but I’m hoping to bust some UFO’s in 2016. My plan is to organize by progress, i.e. just needs binding; completed quilt top/needs quilting and binding; completed blocks that need to be assembled into a quilt top/quilted/bound; incomplete blocks; and lastly, projects with supplies purchased but not started at all. I will try to work on these UFO’s around other new projects—I know there will be a lot of new projects! Hopefully I can knock out some of these or send them on to a new home to be completed elsewhere if I just don’t see myself finishing it in the foreseeable future.
So there you have it! What are your resolutions? And Happy 2016!
I’ve written about hitting the road to visit barn quilts and quilt museums (and thanks, readers, for all the great additions to those posts). Now it’s time to think about what to do while you’re getting to those places. I find time in the car or on a plane the perfect opportunity to do a little hand sewing, knitting, embroidery, etc. And I’m not the only one. A lot of Moda’s designers are hitting the road this summer and taking their handwork with them. In future posts they’ll share tips for embroidery and hexagons on the road. Today, Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill, Laurie Simpson of Minick and Simpson, and Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree and Co. let us in on tips and tricks for enjoying appliqué while en route to their vacation destinations (or maybe just while taking the kids to the neighborhood park).
Applique is the perfect project to carry along to occupy those endless traveling hours, waiting time at the Doctor’s office or those hours while you watch your kids swim. You do have to spend some “prep” time before you leave, but it’s so worth it! I can’t sit still for a long period of time without going crazy and applique is my answer.
Here’s Laurie Simpson’s take on appliqué-on-the-road (and this woman is not afraid to sew-on-the-go: when the power went out in her home recently, she checked into a hotel with her sewing machine so she could finish a quilt! You can read about it here):
I always try to have handwork ready to go—anywhere I need to be. It usually isn’t a problem since I always have projects going on that involve hand piecing, appliqué, or English Paper Piecing. Right now I am making the Austin Bluebird Sampler quilt.
I’m actually re-making it—this one is all in blues. This is a large appliqué block in progress and here are all the tools I need. You can see it isn’t very many. Threads, a thread book with pins and needles, a needle threader, small scissors, basting glue, thimble, and Thimble-It sticky dots. I find these sticky dots helpful for my index finger.
These tools are small and easily transported. I have used several different carriers in my lifetime. Bags, boxes, and custom-hacked lunch boxes. My current favorite is see-through project bags. I found these from a vendor at a quilt show and love them. Not only are they handy, but you can see at a glance which bag has what. The smallest bag holds my threads, the next smallest has the project with the needle case, scissors and such. The next largest bag holds some other tools that may or may not come in handy, bigger scissors, an extra set of eyeglasses, glue sticks, and even a tiny battery operated light that clips onto my eyeglasses. You never know when the power will go out. These 3 bags all fit in the largest bag.
Another positive for the see-through bags is if you are taking these things through security at an airport I find that if they can see what you have (sewing stuff) it is much more likely to go through without a hassle. THIS IS NO GUARANTEE. Always take a pair of scissors through security that you wouldn’t mind leaving behind. Make sure to pack your good scissors in your checked luggage. Happy travels are much more likely if you have busy hands.
So, for me its kind of hit-and-miss these days whether or not I have an actual appliqué project in the works, but I always have some kind of circle or basket handle or other block portion ready for handwork, if necessary. I find that a little bit of appliqué here and there really adds a lot of visual happiness to a larger project!
This summer I am committed to finishing my summer version of my LOLLIPOPS quilt that I started several years ago when I was teaching the pattern as a class in Southern California. There is something about the combination of light butterscotch, orange, and peach with aqua and cream that just gets me every time. These fabrics are a scrappy combo of my Tapestry collection with many other MODA lines mixed in including Flats, Boho, Patisserie, MODA Solids and Avalon. I think it makes me think of sea glass, which I love.
Anyway… I have had these Dresden Blocks ready for quite a while and this summer I am taking the center circles with me whenever I get in the car so that I can finish it all up while its still summer and I can enjoy the quilt outside!
One of the many reasons that I love the starch method of appliqué is because I can do all the prep-work ahead of time and take pieces that are pretty much completely ready for stitching with me. To make them all I need is my fabric, my freezer paper template, a small paintbrush and my little bowl of spray starch.
I prep the circle seam allowances by painting the spray starch onto them and pressing the seam allowances back onto the paper with my iron. Once done, I just remove the paper template and use it for the next circle. What I have ready to take with me are perfectly pressed circles that are ready for my summer Dresdens!
Check in with me later this summer to see if I have finished the project! Hope you are having fun on your road trip… or wherever you are doing some lovely handwork!
Austin Bluebird. I never get tired of looking at pictures of this quilt – I love everything about it.
If you haven’t seen it, this is Laurie Simpson’s first Block-of-the-Month quilt. It’s made using several Minick & Simpson fabrics, many of which were re-printed so this quilt could be offered as Block-of-the-Month kits through shops. I really wanted to sign up… I even bought the pattern… but I know my history. The only thing I’m good about is keeping all the kits together.
Do you participate in Block-of-the-Month programs?
I love them and wish I were better about keeping up. I tried to count how many BOMs I’ve done – with “done” meaning “purchased the kits for” – and I think it’s nine. I have two that are for the same pattern, just from different shops. I loved what both shops had done and I couldn’t decide which one I liked best so… I haven’t finished either one.
I’m not currently enrolled in one but I
am making want to make the blocks for the Snapshots quilt.
I’m told that one of the tricks to staying current is to cut the block out as soon as it arrives – within a day. Make it a priority. If the cutting is done, getting the block pieced seems less daunting. It’s the easy part – the most enjoyable part. I did get Block 1 cut out but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’d better get busy because Block 2 is coming soon.
Do you have any tips for me? Or am I hopeless cause when it comes to keeping up?
While you think on that, I’ll get back to Austin Bluebird. I’ll admit to having a little bit of bias regarding the wonderfulness of the quilt because I like Laurie and her sister, Polly. We went to the Infinite Variety – Red & White – Quilt Show in New York City together and while I can’t recall how it started or what Polly said, I remember standing on a street corner trying not to fall over because I was laughing so hard. People who meet them always think that Laurie is very shy and reserved, and I suppose that’s true. But that isn’t the whole story, the girl has a wickedly dry sense of humor.
I think her quilts show that… that and an independent spirit, she does it the way she wants to do it so that it looks the way she wants it to look.
When you started making this quilt, did you envision doing it as a block-of-the-month pattern? Yes I did. We’ve had requests for several years to do one and I finally decided to do one. I’ve always admired 19th-Century sampler-style quilts that were all willy-nilly and quirky. With this thought in mind, I spied the drawings for the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt on Lissa Alexander’s desk. That quilt looked so great with all the different-sized blocks that I decided I wanted to do mine the same way – no sashing and each block a different size. Though mine would have to have lots of appliqué.
Looking back over the entire process, was there anything you would have done differently? Nope. While I designed it on paper and made the quilt from my sketches, it was the inspired construction devised by our graphic designer, Lisa Christensen, that makes this quilt something special. The month-by-month breakdown of the construction was her idea entirely and I think it’s brilliant that your quilt top is finished after Month 12. It’s quite the morale booster to realize that once your blocks are done, the top is done too. There isn’t a stack of blocks waiting to be put together. We were lucky to have her creative input.
And… will you ever do another? (Please say “yes”.) Yes. Even though I don’t have any ideas drawn up, the response has been great and I had fun designing this one.
Last year, you made the spectacular English Paper-Pieced Mrs. Billings Coverlet quilt using Minick & Simpson fabric. It’s entirely hand-pieced, and then you hand-quilted it. What is it about handwork – hand-appliqué, hand-piecing and hand-quilting – that appeals to you? I jokingly tell people who ask about it – that it’s cheaper than a psychiatrist. Maybe it’s not such a joke. I have always loved handwork. I escape into it. I find it so relaxing to spend the evenings working on a hand-stitched project – all the while engrossed by a ballgame or murder mystery on television.
(Laurie is a Detroit Tigers’ fan. Murder mysteries and Tigers’ games… it might be the same thing. Just saying.)
What’s the best part about the quilt business? Easy – the people. It’s an unusual little sorority that we have in this business – with a few enlightened men. I’ve made great friends.
Don’t worry – I won’t ask you what the worst part is. Instead, is there something you wish you could change about it? I had to think hard about this question to find something that needs changing. I’m still thinking…..
What is the one thing you wish you knew about the business before you started? I wish I were a little bit more computer savvy, and that I knew about photography. But it seems I can only wear so many hats.
What is the one thing you’re glad you didn’t know about the business before you started? (That might be the same question.) Yes, it sort of is the same question. If I thought I had to know all the things that I’ve picked up and had to learn along the way I might have been too intimidated to even begin. Who knew that this path would lead to being a designer, author, business owner, accountant, and chief cook and bottle washer?
My favorite Vulcan Mind-Meld question… Name one person in the industry whose mind you’d like to read, whose brain you’d like to pick. Why? What is it that they do that you’d like to understand? Wow, that’s a good question. Polly and I have had this conversation a lot. There are so many people who have amazing talent that we admire. But if I had to pick one, it would be Kaffe Fassett. We had the good fortune to spend some time with him when we did the Pour Amour du Fil show in Nantes, France. His genius with color is obvious and when he talks about his process and obsession with textiles – it’s just so inspiring. I hesitate to throw the label “genius” around, but he is deserving of the title.
Now you know why I like Laurie.
I’ll let you know how it goes with my Block 1.
In the movie “Terms of Endearment”, Garrett – Jack Nicholson – says he wished the astronauts could get together in a room and talk about what it was like to be in space, how amazing it all was.
While quilting isn’t the same thing as riding a rocket into space, I still sort of know what he meant.
It’s one of the most frustrating things about going to Market. I meet all these talented, creative, really cool people and we rarely have the time to really talk about fabric, stitching, quilting, making stuff and being in the quilting business. We see each other at Markets and sometimes in between, and even though we might get along well, I know I’m not the only one who would love to ask questions, pick each other’s ideas, get opinions and so on. There’s not enough time and sometimes other things get in the way.
So one of the very best things about this new gig of mine is that I get to do that – all the things I’m curious about but haven’t had the chance to ask these folks I like and respect, whose work I love.
Like Anne Sutton. Bunny Hill Designs.
When you heard the name, I’m betting the first thing that came to mind is a beautiful appliqué quilt, probably a block of the month that includes lots of embroidery and probably some piecing. A bucket-list kind of quilt – one where the finished quilt is worth every lovely stitch.
Have you seen Mistletoe Lane? It’s Anne’s newest collection for Moda and we’ve been waiting for it a really long time.
The colors are beautiful – traditional Christmas mixed with a dash of sophisticated shabby chic. Doesn’t this lovely bundle have you craving a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and a peppermint stirrer?
Maybe that’s just me. I think it’s the ice skates.
You can’t see it in the picture but don’t miss the tag panel. I think I’m going to need some of this fabric. The tags are designed to fit in the little pockets Anne has designed for the main quilt – it’s an Advent quilt. But the tags are also perfect for a garland, as ornaments on a tree, or even tied onto packages. (Rumor has it that Anne is planning to stash some of this.)
Anne also started a Snowman Heart of the Month Club called Snow Happy Hearts Club. It uses Mistletoe Lane fabric and Primitive Gatherings Primitive Muslin Flannel in Daisy. The pattern is posted the 5th of each month and it’s free. And it’s adorable. (Yes, shops are welcome to use the patterns for a club.)
So this is what I asked Anne…
Coming up with new ideas is always a challenge and after doing so many beautiful, original block-of-the-month quilts, do you ever worry that you’ll run out of ideas?
Designing an appliqué quilt is like telling a story and there are lots of stories to be told. First I’ll think up some fun characters and then I’m off and running. Mistletoe Lane featured Cinnamon Goose and once I had her character in mind, the rest just followed.
What is the most challenging part about designing – and then writing – a quilt for a block-of-the-month?
I have to say the most challenging part for me is waiting for the fabric to arrive It’s the nature of the business that the fabric usually doesn’t arrive until right before market. Appliqué quilts take time to make so I need to be ready to go the minute the fabric arrives. Obviously I have help because I could never do it all by myself so it’s a stressful time and everything else has to wait. And because I’m moving so fast there’s always a chance I’ll make a mistake.
I love that your appliqué quilts also feature so much embroidery. While embroidery has always been popular, there are so many newcomers wanting to learn how. Aside from your outstanding tutorials, if you could recommend one book or website as a starting point, what would it be?
My go-to book is called the Embroidery Stitch Tool by DMC & Emma Broidery. It’s spiral bound and the perfect size to carry with you. You’ll find lots of tips in the book, plus wonderful diagrams for most of the basic stitches. I recommend starting with a book like this and then moving on to larger books once you’re sure you’ll keep going.
If I wanted to learn how to embroider, what three “things” do I absolutely need to have?
Aside from “practice, practice, practice” – stitch, stitch, stitch – what advice would you give to beginners?
Most beginners make their stitches too large. If you start with trying to keep your stitches small, you’ll be much happier with your embroidery. Smaller stitches will also make a huge difference when you’re going around curves and dips so aim for stitches that are about 1/8” in length.
Use a backing behind your embroidery when you can, either Moda Cuddle Cloth Flannel or Pellon Designer’s Lite Fusible Interfacing. You can get away without a hoop for most stitches if you back your embroidery. Having said that, I don’t back the embroidery on an appliqué quilt because the background acts as the backing.
So enquiring minds want to know… do you have a fabric “stash”?
Of course! I’m always finding fabric I love. Who can resist fabric? Now my stash is by fabric collection so I buy fat quarter bundles and if I love the line, I’ll also buy extra yardage for backgrounds and borders.
You’re known for your beautiful appliqué. Is there a difference between you stash for appliqué and what you would stash for piecing?
Not really. I need light, medium and dark fabrics along with different size prints. I may have more background prints in my stash than quilters who prefer piecing. I’m always sure to add that one larger print for appliqué that will bring together all the colors in my quilt. It’s the focus print, the same as you’d add to a pieced quit.
There are several awesome background fabrics in Mistletoe Lane… if this weren’t your fabric and you were stashing it, how much would you get? Why that amount?
When you find a background fabric you love, buy 2 yards. You just never know what you’ll use it for and 2 yards seems to be the magic number. It gives you enough for large backgrounds and if you don’t use it all in one quilt, you’ll pull from it again and again. I’d be sure and add the snowflake and trees from Mistletoe Lane – Number 2885 16 and Number 2882 16 – to your stash.
What do you look for in a great background fabric?
I look for small-scale prints with a neutral background. Take a Look at my Mistletoe Lane quilt, and you’ll see how I’ve used a combination of small-scale, light tonal prints, with a few dark ones added for interest.
Last question… You’ve been given the ability to do a Vulcan mind-meld with anybody in the quilt industry. Who would you pick? Por quoi? What is it that this person does that you want to know and understand?
I stand in awe of Amy Butler. I love everything she stands for in the industry and of course everything she designs. She’s not only talented, she’s also a great business woman. I admire how gracious and kind she is, and when I see her booth at Market, I’m always enthralled with how creative it is.
I could say the same thing about Anne.
After all, she let me
swipe use all these beautiful pictures.
Thank you Anne!