Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My New Class is Live

My new class on Craftsy is live today.  Use this link to get $10 off!  It's all about the quilting with the walking foot.  I'd had fun filming it and I hope you enjoy it too.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hexagon Quilt

I realized that I never posted this finished hexagon quilt.  The hexagons are machine pieced using my tutorial.  I love the soft colors and the texture of the quilting.  I'm working on getting the hexagon portrait quilt quilted this week.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Seeing the World Through Someone Else's Eyes

Sometimes I crack myself up.  This is what happens when I take a weekend off. The design was inspired by my new friend Candy's work in my stitch and flip class in Lincoln.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Sinking Sun

Sometimes experiments turn out better than I think.  Last spring I was playing with some precision slicing and inserting and this small quilt was the inspiration for Alissa's Bursting with Pride quilt that I made for Spring Quilt Market.  I decided to finish this up as another class sample.
 I think the addition of the fabric on the base turns these two blocks into an interesting design.  It reminds me of the sun sinking over the ocean.
 I quilted the semi circle to emphasize that there is a partial sun there.  I love how the quilting supports the design of this little quilt.
This piece is only 20" x 30" but I definitely think it has potential to be a much larger quilt.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Common Good

No pictures today...simply feeling like I have something I need to say.

Living in close quarters with a million or so other people as you can imagine is quite a change from living on your own property out on acreage in the country.  In my time in Chicago I have been learning much about big city life, Chicago style.  In the city and the country the people around you affect how you live and the quality of your life and of the neighborhood.  That effect is multiplied in the city due to the sheer number of people and their close proximity.

I've learned in Chicago during the winter, that folks who park on the street shovel the parking space where their car is parked after a snow storm and call dibs, you know, dibs, how kids claim seats in the car, swings on the playground etc.  They claim dibs by placing an object, a chair, a child's toy, or even some stray branches in their spot and expect the rest of the community to honor their spot.  There has been quite a discussion in the city about whether parking dibs should be honored and of course some dibs shovelers have had not so peaceful encounters with other drivers who have parked in "their" spots.  The philosophy of the dibs system is just the opposite of doing something for the common good.

With the amount of snow we've had this winter, you can imagine that getting anywhere on city sidewalks that aren't shoveled is a challenge at best.  Even though I have only a small area of sidewalk in front of our place, I shoveled, and shoveled, and shoveled again.  It makes it easier for me, but also for everyone else who walks my little stretch of sidewalk.  As I see folks struggling to move around the neighborhood, I think about those who don't bother.  Our upstairs neighbor, who walks to the train everyday, complained to my hubby about the icy sidewalks and how tough his walk is.  He hasn't shoveled once.  There is no snow fairy.  One day the guy next door  (from the apt. management company) saw me out shoveling and zipped down my sidewalk with his snow blower.  What a guy! If each of us pitches in, it's better for everyone.

At least once a week I spent time in the alley organizing trash.  Yes, I said it, I organize trash.  I guess I am the trash fairy.  Winter is tough for people in Chicago, but it is party time for rats.  People shovel the area behind their garages and it's great to be able to get out of your garage, but they thoughtlessly throw snow on or in front of trash cans making them inaccessible.  Instead of working together to make things accessible, folks just pile on, and even where there are empty cans, people are too lazy to walk a few yards to use them.  And when the snow melts, you don't even want to see what appears.  I crush boxes to make room in the recycle cans and move other people's trash to empty cans. Every time I see a rat I work harder to keep the alley clean.

Twice this winter yellow pages phone books have been delivered in the neighborhood.  Can you guess where most of them still are?  Many times when Bruno and I walk the neighborhood, I take a trash bag with me and pick up things as we go.  I grew up with the Don't be a Litterbug campaign.  It's hard for me to walk past trash on the street and not pick it up.  As I watch folks walk up their front steps and over piled up Red Plum newspapers, yellow pages, and advertising flyers, I wonder, do they not see it, do they just not care?

I could rave on...you probably don't want me to to talk dog poop.  It needs to rain for days and days to wash the filth away in the neighborhood.  Do we believe in the common good?
I know many people do, but it's gets hard sometimes to believe it.

I'm looking forward to spring and those people who plant flowers to enjoy in their yards, but also to share with those of us who need a boost and a little color and beauty to make it through the day. I'm planting a few for the common good.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shattered Remix

I finally gave the Shattered quilt from the book to my son, Ben.  He claimed it from the moment it was on the design wall years ago and he's waited not so patiently for it to travel and appear in shows and in a museum.  I have to admit I didn't want to give it up.  It's now hanging in his dining room.

I won't make another, but I have been experimenting with a Shattered Remix.  It's the same concept but with a little twist.  This is the small version...I think I'm ready to go big with it.  I just need time to sew.

Today I'm on American Patchwork and Quilting Radio with Pat Sloan.  We'll talk QuiltCon 2015 and a little me as well.  Pat's show airs live from 4 to 5 Eastern Time.  I'd love if you would tune in or you can listen to the Podcast later on your own time. 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Craftsy Experience

I spent the week in Denver filming a new Craftsy class.  Thought you might want a peek into my time with the Craftsy team.  
I walked into the studio and was greeted by this...pretty uptown, right?  This was a change from my first Craftsy experience and they even spelled my name correctly!

Yup, I got my own private dressing room.  Last time I changed clothes in the make-up room behind a screen.  Speaking of make-up, I didn't get a photo of the amazing Danica.  She's awesome.  The girl can, with the sweep of a brush make bags under your eyes disappear and she made me feel pretty.  Everyone should have their own Danica.
The dressing room was a colorful place to relax, though I didn't have a minute to sit in that chair!

My studio this year was much larger and decked out to be a great place to film.
There were some display ideas in the studio that I might have to steal.  It was hard not to help myself to that stash of solids and that rack of Aurifil thread.
JC was my producer.  She had a great way to keep me focused on the camera with a quick smile and a flick of her finger.  Because of JC, I was better at teaching to the camera this time.  That camera can be intimidating.

She also referred me to a restaurant in downtown Denver that had the best brussel sprouts I've ever eaten.  Craftsy folks take care of their talent!
Marshall was my shooter for my first class and for this class as well.  It's great to already know someone on your team.  I can't brag on Marshall enough.  He's of course a talented camera guy, but he's also inquisitive and has such great instincts.  His feedback and ideas make my classes better and he's such a nice person to boot.
Marshall is a make it work, MacGyver kinda guy.  For one segment he used quilting books, gaff tape and a piece of gum to get the camera at just the right angle to capture my work at the sewing machine.
My third team member, Lily, was my switcher.  Lily makes sure everything flows together in the class and that all my flubs get erased.  That smile says it all.  She was so much fun to work with and so artistic and talented, but the poor girl was stuck behind her monitors freezing to death.
Thank goodness I had a few quilts with me.  I may have to make Lily a quilt that she can keep.  
 It was hard to leave with the quilt and know that Lily might be an ice sculpture the next time I see her.
 I got to use some fancy technology too.  The is a Wacom Tablet.  My sons will be proud of me that with a couple of minutes of instruction I was on camera drawing away!
Filming at Craftsy is a lot of hard work, but so much fun too.  It's the people that make the experience enjoyable.  My team was so encouraging even when I took about 10 takes to say one sentence and turn my head the right way!
Thanks JC, Marshall and Lily.  You are AWESOME!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hidden Gem

I received an email from the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals today and the President said that we tend not to brag about ourselves.  She said women especially tend to promote others and not themselves.  I'm not much for awards and pinning ribbons on things and talking about my accomplishments makes me uncomfortable.  I don't take compliments well or easily.  She reminded me in her article that that is a skill we need to develop.  My husband tells me that every day.

We do good things and we should be proud of them and not afraid to share.  So, as a first step today I'm sharing that one of my students nominated me for the 2014 Quilt Teacher of the Year award that is sponsored by ICAP.  The award is in its 28th year and I'm pretty proud and thrilled that one of my students took the time and made the effort to nominate me.  The quality of my teaching and my students' experiences are important to me.  I work hard and a I am always working to improve as a teacher.  You would think after 30 years I'd have it down, but I can always be better.  Thanks!
I also had a fun experience walking Bruno tonight.  A guy on the street carrying his groceries stopped me and asked if I was the lady who made the quilts and he pointed to my studio.  I said yes and he told me he and his wife walk by every morning and they were hoping they would run into me.  He told me that my quilts were modern and elegant and that I did exceptional work.  It made going out into that bone chilling cold a little bit easier.  I especially loved the word elegant.

 This is my newest quilt called Hidden Gem.  It's my minimalist version of a sixty-degree triangle quilt.  I photographed it at night so you may not be able to see that the triangles are white, gray and navy with the one little teal hidden gem.

 Hidden Gem will be a pattern that will be coming soon with an announcement, so stay tuned.  I also used this quilt to experiment with some "spirograph" type quilting.  I'll have much more to share on this as well.

As you can see, Bruno spent a little time breaking in this quilt.  It passed the Bruno test, so it's all good.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

On Sewing Machines

One of my readers asked if I would explain my sewing machine choices.  Right now I am sewing on two machines.  One is the Brother, Nouvelle 1500s.  It is a lockstitch industrial machine much like the Juki with which I think folks are more familiar.  It is my newest machine.   I bought it last fall for a little over $600.00. I also have a Bernina 153 which I bought used in Kansas City a few years ago.  Originally it was intended to be my travel machine.  I have two machines set up so I can be piecing and quilting at the same time.  I need to take breaks when I'm quilting and I don't want the hassle of changing thread etc to be able to piece while I'm on quilting breaks.  I treat my machines with care and clean, oil and change needles regularly.  I cover them when not in use to keep the dust away.

 I have learned over time that for me, both in quilt design and in sewing machines that I love simple and uncomplicated.  I want to stress that I don't endorse any sewing machine company and no one pays me to state my opinion.  I bought my Brother last fall after having so many frustrating days with my Bernina 820 which is now a very expensive dust collector.
 I sew for a living and I need a machine that is a workhorse and is dependable.  I bought the Brother because it was simple, it was from a local shop where I know I can get it repaired if needed, and it was available for me to take home that day. The best thing about my Brother is that after I got it home and took it out of the box, I was sewing in less than 10 minutes. No training, no fuss no muss, it simply sews.  It has beautiful stitch quality and a pretty long harp space for quilting.  As you can see it has one large knob to adjust stitch length, reverse, needle down, a thread cutter and four feed dog settings.  It has a walking foot, which isn't very well designed, but I've put my thinking cap on and made adaptations to it to help it work better for me.  I piece, straight line quilt and free motion quilt with it.  It also has a nice extension table.
 My other machine is the Bernina 153 which is a lower level computerized machine,  I've never had an issue with it and it has never been in for repair.  I piece and quilt on it as well.  It doesn't have a large harp space for quilting, but when I need that great Bernina walking foot, I use that machine for quilting as well.  It slows me down having to deal with the smaller harp space, but slow and steady is fine.  I bought the larger acrylic extension table to help during quilting.

 Sometimes I switch the positions of the machines from the desk to the table depending on if I'm piecing or quilting on that machine.  The table provides much for room in the back and on the left for supporting a large quilt.

I have worked on many brands and models of sewing machines and I have watched students struggle with over engineered machines.  Machines will not sew for us.  For me, gadgets and gizmos get in my way.  I want to be in control of my machine.  I don't want the machine to control me or how I sew.  It was an expensive lesson to learn.  As I travel and teach I continue to find that simple seems to be better.

I am still looking for that machine that has the right combination of features that will work best for me.  I do know at this point that more is not necessarily better.

To Anonymous who left a comment on my Proud to Be post, I left you a response in the comments in case you are interested.

To the rest of my readers:  I've eliminated Anonymous comments from now on.

Friday, February 21, 2014

QuiltCon Announcement

It's official, QuiltCon 2015, the convention and quilt show of the Modern Quilt Guild, is one year away.  Mark your calendars and get ready.  I'm so excited I can barely speak.  QuiltCon 2013 was great and we learned so much from planning and executing that event.  QuiltCon 2015 is going to be bigger and better.  Tacos for every meal, fabulous quilts, modern quilters from around the world, opportunities to learn and grow.  It doesn't get any better.  Find out more on the MQG blog.

I sure hope to see you there!  Austin here I come!