Michael Miller Challenge

I told myself I would never do this, but after almost 21 years of quilting, I am. I have never entered a quilt challenge. I’m not worrying about winning, just finishing the quilt by the deadline is a good goal for me. Having one’s creativity judged is a tricky thing and it’s subjective just as writing book reviews of children’s books for School Library Journal is for me.

I have wanted to begin to design quilts tops and hopefully fabrics down the line. So this challenge put a bar in front of me to begin the process of designing quilts. (One thing at time – fabric design….maybe by the end of 2016)?

Back in the spring, I began sketching out blocks. I did some research and read a few books. In Italy I came across so many patterns in the architecture of buildings, on floors, walls, paths, streets, clothes, and of course the art.

So here I am….

Modern Quilt Guild Quilt Con 2015 has several categories of challenges. I chose the Michael Miller Spring Contour Pastels Challenge. I decided on this particular one because, I love pastels, and I have never made a quilt in all these years using only solids for the top.

Michael Miller sent contestants a bundle of fat eighths that looks like this;

 Love these colors!! 

I can’t show my patterns, but parts of one is okay. I am figuring out how the patten process works with quilt patterns, and then I’m happy to share.

I’m belaboring between two patterns. Deb from Pins and Needles in Mt. Kisco is helping me figure out the yardage. Right now I am making mock-ups in graph paper, coloring them in, and will decide between the two patterns.

Hopefully I will have figured that out by Tuesday.

Happy Quilting and have a great weekend!!

Fabrics From A to Z The Essential Guide to Choosing and using Fabric for Sewing by Dana Willard

I came across this book a few months ago, and I really wanted to familiarize myself with it, before I wrote this review. I have to admit, I don’t  know a lot about different fabrics when it comes to sewing. Really just the basics, particularly when it comes to quilting. But now, I am no longer afraid to experiment with other fabrics and try sewing projects outside of quilting.

Dana Willard, author of Fabrics From A to Z; The Essential Guide to Choosing and Using Fabrics for Sewing,has written a sewist’s reference gem. And her encouraging and enthusiastic introduction, has made me want to try Minky, (and other fabrics), which I have always been afraid would wreck the timing on my machine because of it’s thickness. Several months ago someone gave me a large piece of it. 

Back then I had a older Bernina, and now have the 750, but I think I still would have shied away from it.  I donated the Minky to the local SPCA to keep the dogs, cats, puppies of kittens soft and warm while waiting to be adopted. I never regret helping animals in need. 

Now I think I’m going to buy some Minky and use it for the back side of a baby quilt I’m planning. My cousin and her husband are expecting their third; a new baby who’s arrival we are all excited about, due this Spring.

This must-have guide/reference book is sooo well organized. The first section is about “Selecting Fabrics,” and that is divided into five parts; Woven Fabrics, Knit Fabrics, Speciality Fabrics, Blended Fabrics and Patterned Fabrics. Within those categories over 100 fabrics are covered.

Section Two covers “Notions and Tools.” That is divided into four sections; Reading Sewing Patterns, Glossary, Index and acknowledgements.

Each half page spread covers a fabric.  For example, see Lawn below. (Never knew there was even a fabric with that name, just thought it was something green outside our home. covered for the last few months with snow and ice. lol).

At the top left, check out the handy key with the icons. The dress means it’s a good fabric for fashion. The curtains indicate that the fabric means it’s good for home furnishing, and the hexagon shape tells the reader the fabric is good for crafts and miscellaneous projects.

At the bottom of each half page spread, is a very clear photo of the fabric, better than shown above. I can actually see the nubs and weaves in these photos, that’s how sharp they are.

There is a description of the fabric and a recommendation of what it is best used for in detail. For example, lawn is “…,plain-weave cotton….,” that is best used in “….blouses, dresses, shirts, curtain, nightgowns, baby clothing and quilting.”

Next the authors writes a bulleted list of the fabrics characteristics. The following paragraph is list that describes how to best work with the fabric. Lastly, comes a list of how to care for the fabric. Some pages include, “Handy Hint,” “Tip,” or “Did You Know.”  

Part Two covers Notions and Tools. This is fabulous, because each category within those topics are plentiful, with short, precise descriptions, and have simple line art drawings, that provide a novice sewer with a guide that makes identification easy, peasy.

Notions covers everything from all different kinds of threads, which is something I always need to question ,or have something to refer to, and wonderfully helpful. Pages depict different types of buckles, appliques, fastners, trims, zippers and more.

Tools is equally as excellent and complete. It covers tools for measuring, cutting, pressing, machine presser feet and more. I love the machine presser feet section.

I’m grateful to have found this comprehensive and well-written reference book, which is so perfectly executed. Spot on for all interested in sewing.

Back cover….The end.

If you haven’t read Monday’s post of an interview with Amy Gibson from Stitchery Dickory Dock, please check it out.  It includes a fabulous give-a-way, which ends on Saturday, February, 16 at 12:01 PM.

Happy reading and sewing.  And stay safe and warm, especially if you too being effected by this  huge Nor’ easter.

Interview with Amy Gibson From Stitchery Dickory Dock

I have been reading Amy Gibson’s blog since I started blogging this past summer. What intrigued me was the name; Stitchery Dickory Dock; Cuckoo for Quilting, www.stitcherydickorydock.com/, my curiosity about the Sugar Block Club, which immediately made me think Amy lived or lives in Texas, probably near my relatives, (wrong), and the cheerful spirit coming from the “Woman behind the blog.”

With that, I am happy Amy agreed to an interview. It was so much fun for me to research and develop questions for her. I think her answers will not only make you smile, but inspire you, to be even more creative, as they did me.

Interview with Amy Gibson from Stitchery Dickory Dock 

Tell us how you began quilting? Were there other quilters/sewers in your family?  I love those photos on your blog of you when you were sewing with your Great Grandma, and the one of you in the front of the 4H banner.

Hi Anne! First off, thanks so much for having me! What a treat to be featured! I learned to sew when I was 6 or 7 years old in 4-H. My mother and grandmother were both 4-H club leaders, and great sewers, so I learned from them, starting with a gathered skirt and moving on to other garments and home dec projects. When I was 12 years old, I decided to take the “Patchwork Arts” unit in 4-H, and joined a local charity quilting group to help me learn  the ropes. 

That was so life-changing! It was a humble little group, that met in the basement of a tiny little rural church, but was thoroughly equipped with everything a quilter could need. It was from those sweet ladies that I learned about rotary cutters and strip piecing, how to baste, and how to tie a “quilter’s knot”…so many little tips and tricks. Watching my first quilt come together was such a thrill! Wish I could have kept it, but I also felt great to give it to charity. 

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? 

I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado! I went away for a short spell, to get a college degree in central Virginia (and a husband!), but I couldn’t stay away for long – we moved back to the Mile High City right after our wedding, and are thoroughly enjoying raising our 4 children here. It’s really a blessing to be raising my family in the same area that I grew up…taking them to all the fun spots and events that I enjoyed as a child…it’s really cool. 

How did you come up with the name “Stitchery Dickory Dock” for your blog/business? And why did you start a blog? 

I started my quilting business in 2008, and actually started off as a small Etsy shop selling quilts, retro-inspired aprons, and other little patchwork items. 

I have to give my husband credit for coming up with the name though! I remember we were having a burger at our favorite little local spot, and I was dreaming aloud of the things that I wanted the name to embody…”it needs to be whimsical, vintage nursery rhyme-ish, and somehow stitching related”…he immediately shot out Stitchery Dickory Dock” and we both said THAT’S IT! www.stitcherydickorydock.com/

It really was a great fit, because clocks (like in the Hickory Dickory Dock nursery rhyme) have a really strong place in my family heritage. My grandfather was an engineer who spent a lifetime restoring beautiful clocks- his home was filled with them. And my grandmother, on the other side of the family, had an old German cuckoo clock in her kitchen for as long as I can remember – brought to America by my great grandparents. 

That clock was absolute magic! It had heavy weights that hung down low and looked like pine cones, and a funny little bird that popped out every hour… Magic. I love my heritage full of tick tocks! Once I began blogging, I found my true passion, and the Etsy shop quickly fizzled away. I had no interest in making quilts to sell, but every interest in designing and making them for myself and friends, and have always been a bit of a writer at heart…the rest is history. 🙂 

I love the monthly personal challenge posts on your blog. It’s so original and authentic. How did that idea come about?  

I can’t tell you what joy it brings me to hear how folks are excited and moved by the personal challenge portion of this month’s Sugar Block Club. So much,  partially because I felt it was a risky direction to take. Folks would either love it, and join me, full hearted, or they’d hate it, and be annoyed that we were straying so far from quilting. 

In the end, my heart won and I went with it. I suppose I craved an excuse to write about something deeper than wonky stars and paper piecing technique. Yes, I will always be hopelessly in love with quilting, but what really moves my heart is the relationships and growth that I see in the online quilting movement. People coming together, supporting one another, making things with meaning and love and passion, overcoming self doubt and learning to be fearless. To me, this is such a big part of quilting – personal growth – so it felt so natural to pair it with the community I have come to love so much. 

Tell us about the Sugar Block Club? How it begin, and how is it evolving? Were there really 1000 quilters from all over the world and now 100,000? How did that happen? 

Well, the Sugar Block Club really came into being as the 2012 Craftsy Block of the Month was nearing an end. That year was AMAZING – so many quilters coming together, making the same blocks but with their own unique twist – and it boggled my mind at how diverse the group was. About 175,000 quilters came together over that sampler, modern to traditional to art quilters – everyone found a place – and I just couldn’t bare to see that momentum and enthusiasm end. 

We were having way, way too much fun to stop! So I decided I’d continue it by creating a monthly BOM subscription that was full of all the things I loved – classically inspired blocks, yummy recipes, pretty fabric, and now the even deeper challenge of looking inward and doing a little piecing of the heart. As it continues to grow, I am so grateful and inspired by all those who have decided to join in. 

How did you become a Craftsy instructor, and tell us more about this experience? 

Oh, what a joy to work with Craftsy! What an enormous blessing to have the opportunity to be part of that wonderful family. They came onto my radar back in 2010 or 11 I think, when Jenny Doan of The Missouri Star Quilt Company released a class for them called “Quilting Quickly.” I actually won enrollment in the class in a giveaway (crazy, right?!), and I was just delighted by the unique advantages that their online class platform had to offer. 

When I met the Craftsy folks in 2011 at a sewing event, and discovered they were also based in Denver, we really hit it off. I designed a couple of workshops for them first, and then when they asked if I’d be interested in working with them on a monthly series, I was like, “Cool, I’d love to be involved! Who’s gonna host it?” Ha! She said “You!” Totally stunned. Totally excited. When I told my mom, I think she just about had a heart attack- “You can finally put that acting degree to good use!” 

How did you learn to create and write your own patterns? What would you recommend to those who want to learn how to design fabric and patterns? 

As far as quilt design goes, for me it was pure trial and error…and a whole lot of math. A ton of math. And boy did I hate math in school, but now that I use it every day to make quilts that I love, I actually kind of enjoy all the number crunching. It can be a brain bender at times, but once you get a strong grip on the basic formulas for calculating patch sizes and fabric requirements, it’s liberating. 

As far as inspiration goes, the sky is the limit for me – I’m constantly taking photos on my phone of tiled floors and woven rugs…pretty garments or architecture that contain an element I love, and think I could incorporate into a quilt. I’d also advise anyone interested in designing their own quilts to pick up a sketch pad – I love the White Lines graph paper pads – and some colored pencils. Sketching is a really helpful step because when you have a cool idea in your head, it’s important to put it on paper right away. No need for the sketch to be perfect or even the right colors, scale, etc. For me, it’s just getting it from my head to the paper. 

After that, I usually take my sketch and create the design in a quilt design software program. I use EQ7 by the Electric Quilt Company. The software allows me to tweak things and play with the design and fabrics, without having to re-sketch it every time. Definitely a major time saver, and admittedly, a whole lot of fun! 

How would you describe your design style? Traditional, modern, other? 

You know, I don’t know quite where I fit in. I wouldn’t say I’m modern because I love the classic vintage piecing, but then again I’m not entirely traditional because I love bright, poppy colors and modern prints. 

I was with Leah Day when someone asked her this same question, and I loved her reply, “I’m just a quilter.” 🙂 

Tell us what inspires you? 

Oh my, so much! Rich colors, meaningful stories, nature, history, family… Everything and anything. 

What is your favorite part, and least favorite part of the quilting process? 

Favorite part is probably design and piecing. Least favorite…mmmm, probably cutting. Especially on larger quilts, it can get sorta tedious. I’ve definitely suffered sore arms the day after cutting patches for a great big quilt! 

You have a large family and a thriving business. How do you juggle it all?

Sshhhh…the secret to my madness is a messy house and totally unorganized schedule! Seriously though, I wish I had some amazing tips to share. The reality is, I don’t quite know how it works. Sometimes it works because I spend all day in pajamas and let the kids enjoy movies & popcorn in bed. And sometimes it works because I “get it together”, and actually do organized things like freeze-ahead meal planning and task lists. 

Usually though, it’s just day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute survival. When the kids are in school or napping, I have to prioritize – what can I not do when they are around? Work on this quilt, or fold this laundry? The quilt always wins out. And when they are all home and awake, I just have to go with the flow. Sometimes that means a family outing, or room cleaning extravaganza, and sometimes it means we’re all working on something…a quilt, a blog, homework, a beaded necklace…or scattering food about the floor. You know, work things. 🙂 

Quilters love fabric. What are some of your favorites and why?  

Oh goodness, this is a tough one. Designers? Collections? I’m a major sucker for modernized vintage reproductions – love sweet dainty flowers in poppy colors and funky little geometrics. And really any bright small scale blender prints are my friends, as well as great low volume neutral prints. Oh, and dots! Tiny pin dots- I can’t get enough of them.

A Great Give-a-Way – Amy is offering two great give-a-ways for two lucky winners. All you need to do is leave a comment in my comment box below, telling us what online class you would like to see in the future. Please leave me your e-mail address as well, so we can contact the winners. This give-a-way ends on Saturday, February 15th at 12:01 AM, and the winner will be announced on Saturday morning.

The first of these prizes is a free Quilty Class that Amy is teaching, called….

for more details about this very cool class click on the link below; 

The second of these two prizes is a is a beautiful  bundle of fabrics, True Colors by Joel Dewberry.

Thank you so much Amy, for sharing your thoughts, your life, and quilting and sewing inspirations!!

Happy and Healthy New Year!!

Welcome back!! I am glad I took a little break to be with family, friends, enjoy the holidays, and re-charge my batteries. During the downtime, I had some time to think about my personal and professional goals, especially those related to quilting and my blog.

When I started my blog this summer, I didn’t know any other quilt bloggers, or any bloggers for that matter. I read over 200 blogs before I officially launched Hudson Valley Quilts in late August, with the masthead and background you see now. I set up almost everything, technology-wise, except for those elements. I needed someone who really knew code. Thank you, Courtney. I am very grateful and happy because you made my vision a reality. You did such a beautiful job. 

I met some other quilt bloggers from all over the U.S. and Canada. Everyone was kind, helpful, and most of all friendly. Thank you for your help and suggestions. I hope to get to a few quilts shows this year, (hoping to meet some of you in person). I am especially excited to attend Fall Market in Houston this year, which I had to cancel out of a few days before, due to a fractured sacrum.

Although I’ve been quilting for 20 years, I participated in my first QAL this past fall with Fresh Lemons Quilts, and blogger/instructor Faith Jones. My quilt top is almost finished. I can wait to show it, because I added a few little surprises to make it my own, with the thought that it will go to my cousin’s newborn, due in March.

In 2014, I will be doing lots of interviews, including; fabric designers, authors of quilt books, and other bloggers. There will be quilt book reviews, similar to the one I did about Color Essentials, and some tours of manufacturers in our industry. 

Early this month, look for a post which includes an interview of Tom Collingham, who gave me a tour of the Colonial Needle headquarters in White Plains, New York. It was really fascinating and fun. A member of his staff also gave me an incredible basket of sewing threads, needles, and other notions for a give-a-way.

Other projects that I’ve been planning and prepping for are 2 kings sized quilts, using very cute and fun 1930’s fabrics. Also a very scrappy quilt using charm packs and some of my favorite scraps. 

We still have a little more work to finish the sewing room, but I am in there sewing and finally out of the dining room area. And I promised myself the fabric that isn’t put away will be, by the end of January.

My other immediate goal, besides finishing the quilt room, is to understand the amazing amount of new options and technology in my new Bernina 750. Be prepared for lots of show and tell!!

I think 2014 will be the year of new discoveries, and I can’t wait to share them with you!! Wishing everyone a healthy, and Happy New Year.

Fabric Stores – Brick and Mortar and Online a P.S.

Yesterday I posted 27, (now 28), stores that offer great discounts and deals. And to make it easy, all you need to do is visit them and sign up for their newsletters, and the deals come right to your inbox. I am adding one more to the list, and will add more every six months. So here we go…. 

List of Online and Brick & Mortar Stores That Have Great Deals and Sales 

http://www.cutsofcotton.com – Great choice of contemporary bundles, and solid fabrics. Can shop by designer or colors. Fairly priced.

http://surlystitches.com – (Also called Surly Sheep). Nice assortments of color wheels options. Five-piece bundles start a $6.00. Also carries clothing patterns. They sell from Etsy and from their own web site.

http://stashfabrics.com/blog – Nice assortment of contemporary fabrics. Can be purchased through Etsy. 

http://www.southernfabric.com – Wide choice of fabrics, pattern and notions. Lots of choices, and sales. Modern and contemporary fabrics. 

http://www.connectingthreads.com – A wide variety of fabric at amazing prices. Free shipping for orders over $50. 

http://www.intrepidthread.com/ – A wide variety of fabric choices. Lots of sales and offers. 

http://www.pinkcastlefabrics.com/ – Huge selection of fabrics. Great sales, a monthly fabric clubs. Every season they offer a retreat. 

http://www.fabricshack.com/ – Stumbled upon this shop and was amazed at how much they offer. The customer service is outstanding. 

http://www.fatquartershop.com/ – Have been a fan of theirs for a long time. The offer lots of great sales and deals of the week. 

http://www.larkcottons.com/ – Discovered them recently. They have a lovely selection of fabrics and good sales and features. 

http://www.contemporarycloth.com/index.htm – Large variety of contemporary fabrics. Owner donates 1% of net sales to various charities. 

http://www.greenfairyquilts.com/ – Good sale opportunities, especially with Moda and Riley Blake pre-cuts. 

http://www.fortworthfabricstudio.com/ – Great variety of fabrics. 

http://webfabrics.net – Huge variety of fabrics. Great customer service and return policy. 

http://www.christaquilts.com – Great weekly specials. I spoke to her earlier this week, and she is dissolving her online fabric store over the next 6 months, in order to create more time to challenge herself in new areas in the quilting world. 

http://www.hypernoodlefabrics.com – Specializes in very hip, retro fabrics. Prices are kept low, and specials and coupons are offered. Customer service is good. No returns on fabrics, except if the shop made an error in the order, and must be addressed within three days. Check their FAQ page.

http://www.moonafabrics.com – Specializes in art gallery fabrics.

http://www.freshmodernfabric.com – Modern fabric sold through Etsy.
http://www.hancocks-paducah.com – Wide variety of fabrics, fairly priced. Web Sale Fabrics and really well priced. 

http://www.americanquilter.com – A lot of good deals on fabric. If you become a yearly member, you receive fabulous discounts on fabrics all year.

http://www.shabbyfabrics.com – A great, almost exhaustive variety of fabrics from many manufacturers at great prices. 

http://www.thequiltinggarden.com – Lots of good sales. They offer a lay-a-way plan. 

http://www.thequiltedcastle.com – Great variety of fabrics and designers. Prices are very reasonable. 

http://www.bearcreekquiltingcompany.com – Fair prices and a nicely priced clearance center. http://www.theclothparcel.com – Great fabric selection and prices. 

http://www.cottonblossomfarm.com – Features lots of designers and various types of textiles; not just cotton. 

http://www.etsy.com/shop/BobbieLouFabric – Wide variety of contemporary and modern fabrics. Only sold through Etsy. 

http://www.craftersvision.com – Huge variety of fabrics and other items, including embellishments. 

Have a great weekend!!

Winners Of Faith Jones Pattern Give-a-Way and Another Give-a-Way

Congratulations to Fran, Robin and Laurel, who have won a pattern from Faith Jones. If you haven’t already, please e-mail me at acbeier71@gmail.com with your mailing address, and the pattern you would like for your prize. 

Well, we all know how much quilters love fabrics. But I’ve noticed something else quilters love about as much. Chocolate!! And, Monday October 28, is National Chocolate Day. So my very good friend, Maria, who is a real Chocolatier from Chocolations,http://www.chocolations.com/ in Mamaroneck, New York, and I are offering another little give-a-way. A lovely assortment of truffles, chocolate bark and bon-bons. 

Please leave a comment in my comment box letting me know which quilting magazines are your favorites, or telling me what you like most about quilting. This give-a-way can only be done in the U.S. because the prize is edible and perishable. Sorry. I can’t change the rules on this. The winner will be announced on the morning of Tuesday, October 29.

Good Luck!!

The Many Lives of Selvedge Edges – Part 2

Selvedge Edges – Part 2 

Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of selvedge edges. One of the biggest reasons I save them is in case I need to track down out-of-print fabrics. 

For example, if you were looking for a Moda Fabric – Snowman Gathering. It has a code number 1080 11. You would google 1080 11 Moda Snowman Gathering, and your results would bring you to many shops. .                                                                                                                                                                        . 
1. As I mentioned part 1 of this series, I will call customer service at the fabric manufacturer with the information. They are often a wealth of information, and have provided me with some brick and mortar stores names and web sites they think still have the fabric I am looking for in stock. (More about brick and mortar stores and oop fabrics below). 

 2. Of course a google search is the fastest and easiest way to begin your search. Use all combinations of color code and manufacturer to search. See above. (I’m a part-time public reference librarian, and I can’t stress the importance of this enough). And different search engines do yield different results, so don’t discount google chrome, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, or any other one which is not your default browser. 

3. Amazon and Ebay are other great resources. One of my quilt group members found real vintage 1930’s fabric she was looking for on eBay. I am collecting 1930’s reproduction fabric for two projects, and just couldn’t afford the real thing. That said, I found enough for one of the quilts on Amazon, and another led me to an incredible brick and mortar story in Nebraska called Calico Annies. Annie had over 200 1930’s reproduction fabrics. I called her and told her what I was looking for and what I wasn’t, and I was pretty sure she nailed it. She said I could return them if they weren’t what I needed, as long as I didn’t take the packaging of the jelly rolls apart. GREAT. Again, thank you Annie. 

4. My local brick and mortar stores are very helpful too. They have often recommended online fabric stores such as fabric.com. I was looking through a recent copy of Quilty Magazine, and found Fabric Shack in Ohio, which sells online and is a brick and mortar store. A quick call was all that was needed to find the last 13 yards of a Kona solid, Hyacinth. 

5. One more word about brick and mortar stores before I plug online stores. Throughout the years, I have come across some great shops in the U.S., such as Little Quilts in Marietta, GA. I found them via a google search for a hand quilting template pattern I couldn’t find anywhere, but there. I was so impressed with their customer service and web site, that I subscribe to their newsletter which is full of great information and ideas. 

6. http://www.quiltshops.com and http://www.findmyfabric.com are two online fabric shops I haven’t mentioned that have served me well on my quest to find out of print fabrics. Others can be found by googling online fabric stores + out of print fabrics. 

7. A few of my quilting friends have had success at Esty. 

8. http://www.hancocks-paducah.com/ is another great web site and brick and mortar store. If you happen to be in Paducah, KY, you can also visit The National Quilt Museum. See http://www.quiltmuseum.org/ 

9. If you belong to a guild, send out an e-mail and attach a photograph of the out-of-print fabric. You never know who might have a suggestion. 

10. And we can’t forget the power of social media. If you belong to Flickr, Instagram, yahoo or google groups, by all means post what you are looking for. If you have a pinterest board, start a board, of Out of Print Fabrics that you are interested in. If you tweet or blog you can always upload a photo of the fabric. And of course, there is always Facebook. 

 I am sure there are many more sites and stores where you may have been lucky with finding that treasured out of print fabric. Please share your finds in the comments box below. In a month I will post all the finds of everyone who participates, and achieve it. I will also continue to add to it, much like I would for a wiki.