Sunday, April 15, 2018

Talking "Fabric" with the Madison Station Quilters

The room was filled with nearly 70 guild members and visitors that attended my “From Field to Fabric” lecture and a trunk show at the Madison Station Quilters guild meeting last week. It was a lively evening! An enthusiastic and inquisitve group of quiltmakers and several garment sewers asked thoughtful questions about the fabric manufacturing processes as well as the fabric samples that I brought for Show and Tell.
English paper pieced hexagons with aboriginal fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia.

A Trunk Show of WIPs
What’s fun about presenting to a group of "quilty" kindred spirits is that they “get it” if you show a WIP (work in progress). I passed around a handful of English paper pieced hexagon blocks (above), two in-progress kantha embroidery pieces ...
Kantha hand emboirdery on yarn-dyed textured woven from Diamond Textiles.
and did a show and tell of four unquilted quilt tops.
Charm square quilt top combining Australian aboriginal designs from
M&S Textiles and batiks from Majestic Batiks.

Q and A
After the presentation, the Q&A part of the evening covered discussion about:
Ikat sample.
  • The differences between yarn-dyed and printed fabrics,
  • Ikat fabrics [from Diamond Textiles],
  • Keeping a print design on grain,
  • Using the “right side” or the “other right side” of a yarn-dyed fabric,
  • Sewing patterns for my jackets,
  • Digital fabric printing,
  • Machine trapunto.
More info about my projects that illustrate these topics can be found in these blog posts:
I did have two completed quilts that featured fabrics from Lewis and Irene, a UK fabric company that just established its USA division in October 2017. This little quilt has machine trapunto and mixes fabrics from Lewis and Irene, Art Gallery, and the border is an aboriginal print from M&S Textiles.
Machine trapunto "Enchanted" quilt featuring Lewis and Irene fabrics.

Fabric Samples and Feedback
Attendees were kind enough to provide feedback on their favorite fabrics from the samples that were on display. Favorites included:
  • From Diamond Textiles: Woven Elements, Primitive Rustic, and Primitive Stars were the top vote-getters followed by Embossed Cottons, Kalamkari, Nikko Earth, Picket Fence. The wildly popular ikat fabrics got write-in votes!
  • From M&S Textiles Australia: all the prints were well received with specific requests for Spiritual Woman, Kingfisher, Wild Bush Flower, Spirit Place, Rebirth Butterfly Spirits and Dancing Flowers.
  • From Lewis and Irene: Bumbleberries, Geometrix, Lindos, and Celtic Reflections were top favorites followed closely by Water Meadow, Fairy Lights (glow-in-the-dark), and City Nights.

Thank you!
Thanks again to Susan Yell, the guild's current President for the invitation, the two lovely volunteers that modeled my jackets, the quilt angels that held up the quilts and tops and to everyone who came out to spend the evening talking about quilting fabrics with me. Your excitement and overwhelmingly positive reception to the yarn-dyed textured wovens and hand printed kalamkari fabrics from Diamond Textiles, the bold colorful aboriginal designs from M&S Textiles Australia, and the contemporary “sophisticated cute” fabric collections from Lewis and Irene is contagious! I am pumped with a renewed interest in creating more quilts, garments and other projects with these fabrics and I hope you are, too.

Cast your Votes
Please tell your local quilt shops [YLQS] that you are interested in these fabrics! You are the fabric influencers for the quilt shops and independent sewing centers that you support.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Trunk show at the Madison Station Quilters guild

Forever ago (it seems), Susan from the Madison Station Quilters, invited me to give a presentation at her guild. The time has arrived for my speaking engagement: this Thursday (tomorrow), in Madison, Alabama, which is just outside of Huntsville.
Bobbin work on yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles.
With my presentation, I'll have a few of my pieces for a trunk showquilts and garments. I’ve been exploring yarn-dyed fabrics in various capacities for about a year—with hand stitching, bobbin work, decorative machine stitchesand combining the yarn-dyed textured wovens with vintage and other printed quilting cottons.

I'm finding the juxtaposition between the textures (one of the inherent characteristics) of the yarn-dyed wovens and the patterns of the printed cottons fascinating and refreshing... and in a way, sophisticated! 
Kalamkari block-printed cotton fabrics from Diamond Textiles. 
When I mentioned to Susan that I'd like to bring "show and tell" and some fabric samples to the meeting, she was excited. I said I'd like to introduce the guild members to a few new fabric lines (from the UK, India and Australia) and show examples. I hope to provide a different view and ideas for mixing fabrics. Another quilting friend calls it "patchwork fusion."
Fabrics from M&S Textiles Australian.
I am excited to see and hear the feedback from the Madison Station quilters. Mixing fabrics that are made in different parts of our world and inspired by different cultures is fun and exciting... and sharing ideas with fellow quilters is even better! Alabama, here I come.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Make a Melba flower basket, a free pattern from The Textile Pantry

These little fabric baskets are made with the Melba Flower Basket pattern from The Textile Pantry. I’ve made several of these cute containers recently. They are fast and fun to make and an excellent distraction from the unseasonably cold, rainy and snowy weather we’ve been having for April.
Melba Flower Basket, a pattern from The Textile Pantry.
Fill them with candy and pop in some Peeps.
Use them beside your sewing machine to hold small tools like a seam ripper and binding clips.
Download the free Melba Flower Basket pattern at The Textile Pantry.
Leesa Chandler, the owner of and  creative force behind The Textile Pantry, is a fabric designer, quilt shop owner, quilter, sewer, and pattern designer. She does it all! Her patterns feature her fabric lines that are inspired by the landscape of Australia, where she lives. Here she is in her booth at Fall Quilt Market, 2017.
Leesa Chandler, The Textile Pantry, at 2017 Fall Quilt Market.
A few examples of her project creations.
Overlander Bag featuring Under the Australian Sun fabrics.
Melba's Evening Robe

The Textile Pantry donated several patterns to support the One Stop Shop Hop that was held this weekend at the north Georgia Dalton Convention Center. Congratulations to the lucky winners of the door prizes.
Textile Pantry patterns at the One Stop Shop Hop.
You can find Leesa’s fabric collections, Melba and Under the Australian Sun, at these and other quilt shops: Chattanooga QuiltsSew N So Quilt ShopHuntsville Sew and VacDizzy Divas Fabric ShopStitch N QuiltFabrics GaloreAbsolutely Fun SewingWV Quilt and other quilt shops in your area. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Egg coloring session 2018

Eggs + dye + Crayola crayons + imagination = fun with color and pattern.
Hand dyed Easter eggs.
This is the photo sequence to go from white eggs to colored and patterned Easter basket creations.
1. Get someone to color with you.
The helper.
2. Use crayons from the Big Box of 96 to draw designs on hard boiled eggs. Dunk eggs into the dye to achieve desired color saturation.
Hard-boiled white and brown eggs ready for coloring.
3. Set dyed eggs in the egg carton to drip dry.
Set eggs in the carton to dry.
4. Arrange colored eggs in the baskets or containers filled with paper grass. Add candies and chocolates as desired. 
Arrange colored eggs in baskets.
5. Give them away and make someone’s day! Have a Happy Easter.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Chattanooga area quilt shops and quilters welcome Ben Taphouse from Lewis and Irene fabrics: part 2

During the two-day whirlwind visit with Ben Taphouse, Director of Sales for Lewis and Irene fabrics, we visited four quilt shops in Tennessee and Georgia. After a presentation for the Choo Choo Quilters on Monday evening (see this blog post), we had a full day on Tuesday meeting with shop owners of Chattanooga Quilts, Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More, Sew 'n So Quilt Shop and Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More.
Here is Kim Thomas (center), owner of Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah, TN,
with Ben (right) and me.
Our first stop Tuesday morning was at Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah. Here we are with Kim Thomas, the owner. The Lewis and Irene fabrics were well received at Chattanooga Quilts, so be looking for several collections arriving in the upcoming months. You won't lack for project ideas and inspiration at Chattanooga Quilts because Kim has curated fabrics for several projects and kits will be available at her shop. The Lewis and Irene website also has loads of free patterns for downloading. Contact Kim to see what's coming in.

Traveling from Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah, Ben and I dropped by Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More. Because of our tight schedule and the flurry of activity that was happening at this store (it was hopping!), I didn't get a photo. But I can say that shop owners, Kyra Rhyne and Josh Flinn were smitten with the collections and have childrenswear and garment sewing projects planned for them. Be watching their class calendar and stop in the shop in the next months.

From Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More, we made a quick stop at 4 Corners Cafe near Collegedale, TN, for paninis. True to the typical antics of a traveling sales rep, Ben took to eating our lunch on-the-fly in the car. [Ben--next time we'll have to make time to enjoy the home made gelato at 4 Corners!]
Ben outside Sew 'n So Quilt Shop in Rocky Face, GA.
On to Sew 'n So Quilt Shop in Rocky Face, GA, where we were greeted by shop owner, Anna Quarles, and a group of her customers.
Ben shows customers at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop a photo of
the glow-in-the-dark inks in the Fairy Lights collection.
Ooohs and ahhhhs filled the shop during Ben's presentation of the upcoming Lewis and Irene fabric collections. Anna took copious notes based on the "Oooh/Aaah Barometer" and reactions to the lines from the attendees. As of the writing of this blog post, the full collection of Lewis and Irene's "Bee Kind" is at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop along with pre-cuts from the Spring/Summer Bumbleberries collection.
Meet and Greet with Ben Taphouse at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop.
Lucky winners of the door prizes were thrilled to be going home with Lewis and Irene fabric goodies.
Anna Quarles, owner of Sew 'n So Quilt Shop and Ben Taphouse.
The final appointment of the day was an evening Meet and Greet at Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More in Cleveland, TN, hosted by shop owner, Lana Masengill.
The Bumbleberries fashion blender was used
in this sample.
 While Ben presented the collections, attendees got to examine the fabric strike-offs ...
Examining the strike-offs.
 and pass around the samples.
There were lots of projects and samples on hand for people to see at the Meet and Greet.
The Lewis and Irene door prizes were very much appreciated. (Think she's having a good time?)
A lucky winner of Lewis and Irene charm squares.
Lana already had several bolts of the "So Darling" line in her shop and it was no surprise that these and the Bumbleberries  fashion blender, were leaving with customers in one and two-yard cuts. Fear not! Lana has more Bumbleberries and other upcoming Lewis and Irene collections on order!
Ben Taphouse with shop owner,Lana Masengill, at Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More.
The wrap-up
After hearing the stories behind the company and its fabric designs, I hope the Tennessee and north Georgia quilters and sewers won't be strangers to Lewis and Irene fabric collections that will be making their way to the area's quilt shops. Thank you so much to all the shop owners that allowed us to visit.

So, after:
    2 days,
    4 quilt shops,
    2 Meet and Greets,
    1 guild meeting, and
    168 miles...

... Ben and I did a brain dump and recap of the visits and conversations with shop owners and all the quilters. Believe it or not, Ben recommended Smokey Bones for a great late-evening dish of mac and cheese and deep-fried Oreo cookies (and he claims he does not have a sweet tooth!). One minute it was 9 pm, and the next it was midnight! Time flies when you're talking "fabric."

Thanks for a wonderful visit and hope you enjoyed your trip to Chattanooga, Ben! 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chattanooga area quilt shops and quilters welcome
Ben Taphouse from Lewis and Irene fabrics: part 1

This week, I had a wonderful opportunity to host a visit and travel with Ben Taphouse, the Sales Director of Lewis and Irene, a young and enterprising fabric company based in England.
Ben Taphouse, Director of Sales for Lewis and Irene fabrics, speaking at the
Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting. The "Lindos" collection was a guild favorite.
Lewis and Irene is a family-owned fabric company serving the sewing, quilting and crafting businesses across Europe and is now introducing their "sophisticated cute" fabric collections and fashion blenders to quilt shops in the United States. I am one of the direct fabric reps in the US.

The "Kimmeridge Bay" collection features prehistoric
sea creatures, rock rubbings and a design based on an actual
fossil found at the site.
Visiting with the Choo Choo Quilters
Ben's visit coincided with my quilt guild's monthly meeting, so the Choo Choo Quilters gave Ben a warm, enthusiastic welcome to Chattanooga on his first evening in town. 

Guild members got an up-close-and-personal preview of all the new Lewis and Irene fabric collection as Ben presented them along with the inspiration and personal story behind each collection. Strike-offs (printed fabric swatches of the designs) were available for attendees to feel and inspect.

Lewis and Irene's fabrics are made from grade A1 cotton and the company vetted several mills before choosing the one to print its fabrics. The Lewis and Irene team keeps attentive watch on design execution and print quality and is pushing boundaries with metallic, opaque pearlescent and specialty fabric inks. Be on the lookout in September 2018 for the "Fairy Lights" collection that incorporates glow-in-the-dark inks as a focal point of the designs in the collection. Note that "Fairy Lights" was voted a "guild favorite" during the presentation.

Choo Choo Quilters previewed new fabric collections
from Lewis and Irene.
Other upcoming collections feature geometrics, stylized city skylines with British taxis and a map of the "tube" [Americans might call it the "subway"], winter and holiday themes with tomtes, and a host of other themes inspired by travels near and far--from the Greek islands to local villages and Ben's backyard. Guild members provided feedback on their "most likely will buy" with these as the top vote-getters:

:: Lindos
:: Snow Days and Hygge Christmas
:: Bumbleberries fashion blenders
:: Geometrix
:: Fairy Lights
:: City Lights
:: The Water Meadow

followed closely by:
:: Love Me, Love Me Not
:: Small Things, Country Creatures
:: Winter Garden
:: Bear Hug
:: Celtic Reflections
:: Kimmeridge Bay
:: Scarecrow Acres

Quilters: Be watching for these fabrics to arrive in Chattanooga area quilt shops and other quilt shops across the country.

Projects and inspiration
At the guild meeting, there was an array of samples--quilts, pillows, tote bags--made from the free patterns available from the company's website. 
Quilts and samples of projects made with Lewis and Irene fabrics.
Ben encouraged the guild members to post their own projects made with Lewis and Irene fabrics to the Lewis and Irene Facebook page. The company loves sharing the accomplishments and creativity of quilters, sewists and crafters!
Detail of a quilt featuring hexagons cut from "Enchanted Forest."
During the presentation, Ben relayed the story surrounding the forming and naming of the company--which was named after his grandparents--and endeared attendees even more to the fabrics, the company and the company's core values. The brand's tagline is "threaded with love."
Hand-crafted ceramic mug by local artist.
"Chattanooga Quilts"
Ben's Thank You gift from the Choo Choo Quilters was a Chattanooga Quilts ceramic mug. I've heard on good authority that Ben and the mug made it safely back to England and Ben has already put the mug to good use. Thanks for visiting the USA and spending time with the Choo Choo Quilters, Ben!

Several quilt shop owners, shop associates, and area quilters from Tennessee and Georgia also had the pleasure of meeting my guest from England and hearing the Lewis and Irene story. Stay tuned for part 2 of my travels with Ben.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Lewis & Irene VIP is visiting Chattanooga!

Have you heard about Lewis & Irene, a fresh, new face in the quilting fabric arena? If not, let's make an acquaintance...
"Enchanted Forest" from Lewis & Irene fabrics.
Lewis & Irene is a family-run business that offers quality 100% cotton fabrics. Their unique designs have quickly become "fan favorites" with quilters and sewers in the UK and across Europe. In October 2017, the way was paved to bring these collections to US quilt shops and independent sewing centers so all of us American quiltmakers can get our hands on these lovelies.

Are you intrigued?
I hope so, because in about a week, Ben Taphouse, the Director of Sales in the UK for Lewis & Irene, is making a trip to the USA and will be traveling with me in Chattanooga for 2 days. 
Up and coming to USA quilt shops: Lewis and Irene fabrics
A few Chattanooga area quilt shop owners have graciously made time to meet with Ben and me. And happily, his visit coincides with my quilt guild's monthly meeting, so Ben will be our guest presenter at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting.

Interested in hearing the Lewis & Irene story?
If you are interested in hearing the story of the Lewis & Irene fabric company, and what inspires the designs of their fabric collections come to the guild meeting or a Meet and Greet. Here's our travel agenda:

Monday, March 19: Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting, Hixson, TN, 6:30 pm

Tuesday, March 20:
Visiting Chattanooga Quilts and Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More early in the day.
3:00 pm: Meet and Greet at Sew N So Quilt Shop, Rocky Face, GA.
6:30 pm: Meet and Greet at Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More, Cleveland, TN

If you live in the Chattanooga area, be on the lookout for Lewis & Irene fabric collections. Please support your local quilt shop and ask them to carry these fabrics. You can also email me or let me know if your local quilt shop is interested in this fabric line—I'm happy to contact them.

Oh, yeah... and there might be some fabric goodies available for event attendees.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Fussy cutting Australian aboriginal prints for EPP

The Dreamtime aboriginal designs from M&S Textiles are full of graphic symbols, geometric textures and organic shapes. I was recently discussing the possibilities for these Australian fabrics with Jennifer, the owner of  Busy Lady Quilt Shop, and she reminded me that they would be ideal for fussy cutting English paper piecing [EPP] shapes. She is so right!
M&S Textiles aboriginal Australian fabric designs.
A few years ago, some rep friends and I were on the EPP bandwagon when Paper Pieces launched the Glorious Hexagons stitch-along using Katja Marek’s "The New Hexagon" book. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of the EPP technique for these fabrics sooner... because it's perfect.
English paper pieced hexagon blocks.
So, I’m rekindling my relationship with this slow stitching technique—English paper piecing—using fabrics with aboriginal designs. The acrylic templates from Paper Pieces make fussy cutting motifs easy and accurate.
Fussy cutting swirl motifs using an acrylic template and rotary cutter.
Paper Pieces now offers the acrylics with 3/8" or 1/4" seam allowances built in. (My preference is still the 3/8" inch.)
English paper piecing with aboriginal fabrics from M&S Textiles.
The diamond shaped papers I'm using here are 1-3/4 inch card stock papers (also from Paper Pieces.) This shape can be combined to make hexagons, stars, the Tumbling Block and other designs. My 8 must-have tools for English paper piecing are detailed in this blog post.
Shapes ready for hand piecing.
If you need a portable, take-along project, EPP is the answer. Thanks for the insight and reminder, Jennifer! Can't wait to see what you make with the Australian fabrics that are coming to your shop.
English paper piecing [EPP] is very portable.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adding color flavor to 4-patches with decorative stitches and 12 wt. thread

Notes to self: "A little spice goes a long way," "Less is more," and "It's all in the details."
4 patch blocks with decorative machine stitching.
Yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles. 12 wt. Spaghetti by WonderFil Threads.
These 4-patch blocks were pieced with squares from a charm pack from Diamond Textiles and leftovers from jackets I made with these fabrics. These yarn-dyed cotton fabrics are rich with texture. Some have a pronounced plaid or check while others have a more subtle pattern. A few have a brushed surface. They all whisper, "comfort."

My original ideas was to combine the 4-patches with wool appliqué blocks.
Auditioning the 4-patch blocks with wool appliqué.
But there needed to be a better dialog between the brighter colors of the wool and the 4-patch blocks.

Enter: 12 wt. thread (Spaghetti from WonderFil Threads) and decorative stitches!
Sewing across the seams with decorative stitches.
Putting my sewing machine's built-in decorative stitches to work not only started the "color conversation" but it was fun to experiment with fabric pattern and stitch combinations.
Decorative machine stitches using 12 wt. thread.
WonderFil's 12 wt. cotton thread holds its own. The decorative stitches add detail and color to the blocks. I do like to "spin" the seam allowances at the intersection of the 4-patch blocks (see photo below). This makes a flatter seam and easier sewing of the decorative stitches across the intersection. You will be thankful you used this seam allowance technique when you get to the quilting step, too.
Spinning the seam allowances on the 4-patch blocks.

I am pleased with how this sprinkling of decorative stitches is adding a wonderful new flavor to my 4-patch blocks. 
4-patch blocks with decorative machine stitches in 12 wt. threads.

Hey there, blog stalker: do you add decorative stitches to your patchwork or appliqué?

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