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Sitges International Patchwork Festival

What a wonderful week I had. I just returned from the Sitges International Patchwork Festival put on by the Association Espana de Patchwork.


Outside the exhibit hall
Outside the exhibit hall

Sitches itself is a gem of a city about 20 kilometers south of Barcelona, on the Mediterranean, with narrow cobblestone streets, beautiful old architecture, seaside cafes, wide promenades along the water and extremely friendly people. The weather was perfect every day with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 50’s.


1. narrow streets
Narrow streets!
Beautiful buildings
Beautiful buildings
Seaside cafe
Seaside cafe


I was invited to be one of the guest artists and to have an exhibition of my quilts at the show.


5. outside exhibition hall


Preparing for the exhibit
Preparing for the exhibit

Since I did not want to ship the quilts or check them, my son, Sean, accompanied me and we packed all 12 quilts in carry-ons.  It was quite a feat getting them all in the small-enough bags that we would be allowed to take on the plane.

The hall that held my exhibit was in an old building right on the water. Large windows looked out onto the sea so the lighting was excellent. Once the show opened, I was amazed at the crowds of people. The organizers expected more than 10,000 people to attend.


Looking out from the hall
Looking out from the hall



8. inside hall


Other artists with exhibits included Anna Dolanyi, Katie Pasquini, Danny Amazonas, Maoli Lozaano and Willyne Hammerstein. Unfortunately, because of the classes I was teaching and the time spent in my exhibit greeting people, there was not time to visit all of the exhibits which were scattered around the old part of the city.


With Katie
With Katie Pasquini



With Danny
With Danny Amazonas



Danny's horse art quilt
Danny’s horse art quilt



The eye of the horse - spectacular!
The eye of the horse – spectacular!


In the room next to my exhibit was an exhibit of work by children and I was so pleased to see the effort the patchwork association was making to encourage quiltmaking by children.


13. children with quilts


When we arrived at our seaside hotel we were a little sorry to see giant tents being put up along the promenade opposite our hotel.  We thought what a shame it would spoil our view, but then we saw a large “Bernina” sign being put up and realized that this series of tents was the vendors area! The tents were full with people the entire time.


15. inside tent
Inside the tent


We had a fabulous time and I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to take part in it.

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New Block of the Month for 2017

Graphic for Blog


For the last several years I have been offering a free block of the month quilt pattern to subscribers to our monthly newsletter.

A few months ago, we sent out a survey asking what type and style of project you would like to see for next year’s Block of the Month and we have taken your suggestions to heart. The most popular design ideas were:

  • Wall hanging
  • Medallion style
  • Piecing and appliqué
  • Mystery quilt

For 2017, we have listened and took your suggestions. Instead of a full size quilt, the project is smaller, only 47” x 47”. It is medallion style and it is a mystery quilt with both appliqué and piecing. Instead of a block each month there will be portions of the design to put together.

I have designed the quilt to be a learning experience and it incorporates various piecing techniques so that by the time you finish you will be able to tackle any patchwork project.

Many of you know that I sew all my quilts by hand. One of the reasons is that handwork is portable and you can take it anywhere you go. I have seen a real resurgence of interest in hand piecing the last couple of years and this quilt is a great project to do by hand even if you have never tried hand piecing before. Each clue is a learning step to the next one and, if you choose to sew by hand, by the end of the year you will be an expert. If you prefer sewing by machine, the pattern is written for both hand and machine sewers.


Taping Take Two
Our classroom was transformed into a film studio to produce the videos for the new BOM mystery quilt. We were lucky to find a videographer right in our neighborhood, Adam Vogtman.


We will begin with simply sewing a straight line, then joining four points, curves, eight points, setting in seams, appliqué and so on. There will be video clips to go along with the clues with links to these in each newsletter. The quilt is not a huge project and you should easily be able to complete each clue during the month.

I have designed this quilt in the four colorways shown above. You can pre-order your kit and it will be shipped starting January 20th, so by the time the first clue comes out in February you will be ready to start!

In order to receive all the clues for the BOM, you must be a subscriber to our free monthly newsletters. The links to all patterns and videos will only be in our newsletter. If you have not yet signed up you can do so here.

Watch for more information on this program in Saturday’s newsletter. I hope you are as excited about this as we are.

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Optical Illusions

One of our most popular quilt kits is the Optical Illusions design by Erin Underwood. This quilt is created by sewing strips of colors and background together and then cutting them out with a wedge ruler. The leftovers from one set of wedges creates the second alternating wedges. So, it is super simple to sew.

When you step back from the quilt design, you not only see the checkerboard, but also swirling petals. The effect is achieved with only six colored fabrics.


Original Colorway


I decided to do a new colorway of this quilt in the ever-popular teals, purples and blues. When I finished, I wondered what had gone wrong. I had my six colors. They shaded nicely together, but I was not getting the “petal effect.”


Teal Quilt One
First attempt


I studied the two designs and realized that the brightest and lightest colors needed to be at the center of the strips. I had done that with the original quilt but not with the new one. So, I went back to the drawing board and re-shaded the fabrics and created a second version of the design. This time I could see the petals.


Teal Quilt Two
The final peacock version with a dark background.


You can see here the two sets of wedges. In each set the fabrics are arranged exactly the same. The second wedge in the set is simply turned upside down. It is amazing how different the quilt can look by just changing the order of the fabrics.



Wedge Sets

Look how different the design looks with a light background instead of a dark. Are the petals more visible on the light background or the dark? Some eyes see it one way and some the other. This is where the “optical” effect plays tricks.


Optical Illusions Peacock

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A Gift of Temari in Nepal

I am just back from an awesome trip to Nepal with Sew Many Places and, as this blog is published, I am heading off to Houston for Quilt Market (and still jet-lagged). Yes, it can at times be quite tiring but the best part of my job is the wonderful people I meet along the way. I don’t have time to write much today but I just wanted to tell you a quick story about one of the ladies on my Nepal trip. I promise that next week I’ll tell you more about Nepal and, also, Houston.


Temair ball


I met Barbara Suess several years ago. Barbara is an expert on Japanese Temari. Temari is an ancient Japanese folk craft which came from the desire to entertain children with an embroidered toy thread ball. I have had Barbara to the Studio to teach and have carried her books. The designs are beautiful!


Handful of Temaris


Well, Barbara was on the trip to Nepal and brought along a bag of Temari balls she and some of her students had made. Barbara was graciously giving these balls away. One day, we were at a cooperative where local woman worked on crafts for sale (more on this next week) and Barbara gave her one of the Temari balls. The woman put it in her hair and proudly wore it for the day.


Nepali Hair Accessory


Despite language and cultural differences, it was special to see these two women, who love to create things of beauty by hand, share this moment.

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Hello from Nepal!

I’m having a great time in Nepal on the tour with Sew Many Places. Several of the people on the tour have traveled with me previously and I’ve also made many new friends.





I arrived early to Nepal with two quilting friends to get in a little additional sightseeing, the highlight of which was time spent with the elephants. (My thanks to Sandi Goldman for many of these pictures.)


Jinny and Elephant


Elephants Bathing


Our tour group gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city.


Nepal 5


Nepal 6


Nepal 7

The sadness for me is seeing the ever-present effect of last year’s earthquake with the total destruction of some structures and the shoring up of old historic landmarks.


Earthquake 2


Earthquake 1
Isn’t it amazing that this building is still standing?

But, of course, there are so many wonderful sights to see including the Nepali children who are always ready with a smile.


Nepali Children


And, since this is a quilters’ tour, there is always time for a lesson or two.


Class in session


I’m excited to announce my next trip with Sew Many Places. A year from now I will be traveling with them to Guatemala. I have never been to this country but have heard and read so many wonderful things about it.

Here is a link to information on the trip.


Color- 1
The colorful inspiration abounds in Guatemala


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Hard to Believe….

The summer seems to have flown by.  It is hard to believe that the regular baseball season is over, school has been in session for a month, that there is not much left in the vegetable garden, that our shop hop starts in less than a month, that Fall Quilt Market is in three weeks and that I leave in two days for two weeks in Nepal…Yikes!


Hard to Believe 4


Ok, I’ll take a big breath and give a few words of wisdom before I sign off and start packing. I have talked all summer about our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, and I have shared with you the progress as I have worked on the quilt for our shop this year.


Hard to Believe 3


When I finished the top a month ago I really wanted it quilted. Since I pieced it all by hand (while watching baseball games all summer) I wanted it quilted by hand as well. I am amazed at how fast the quilting is going. So far I have only been quilting on it for three and a half weeks but I already have two thirds of it completed. But I guess if you are a little diligent and do some each day it gets done! I work on it an hour in the morning when I first get up, an hour during the evening news and three or more hours during the baseball game. Since I have a lot of travel this month, I won’t get it completely finished before the shop hop but I’ll come close.


Hard to Believe 1


I want to share with you two of my favorite tools when quilting by hand. The first is TJ’s Quick Quilter Spoon. I have been using this for years. It helps me get even stitches and protects my fingers. The second tool is some long-nosed pliers. While quilting, I usually get five or six stitches on my needle at a time. I’m getting a little arthritis in my fingers and sometimes it is hard to pull the needle through. A pair of needle nosed pliers does the trick! I just keep it near me on the top of the quilt and use it to pull out the needle. It saves the fingers and makes the quilting go quicker since I can stack more stitches on the needle each time.


Hard to Believe 2


We just had our latest shop hop meeting a few days ago. All of the shop owners shared their quilts. What a spectacular array! When you participate in the Quest, you can pick up a free pattern at each shop for their quilt. That’s a total of 10 FREE patterns! I am at the Studio every day of the Quest to greet you and hand out our patterns. I hope to see you then!

This year Quilters’ Quest will take place November 4th through November 13th.

Participating stores will be open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-6:00pm and Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm. Visit for details.

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The Magic of Shading

I just couldn’t resist the Zipster pouches that are in our web special this week. In case you didn’t notice, they shade from top to bottom. And as you may have heard, I have this thing for shading.  As soon as I saw them I just had to make some shaded bundles to go with them.


Jinny Shading



Zipsters with Fabrics for Blog


People have asked what the secret is for shading colors. It is not difficult. You can shade light to dark within a color and then link it to another color through very dark or black. You can shade through medium values into another color, or you can shade lighter and go through lights.

When I go on a tour with people I can’t help myself sometimes when we do a group photo. People are never asked to wear anything special, but for the photo I like to shade everyone together according to what they have on that day.


INDIA shaded phot sm


This is a photo that was taken in front of Amber Palace in India on a trip with Sew Many Places. It is a perfect example of my shading addiction. Notice the five women in the lower right. Within just those five, the colors go from light to dark and from bright orange to deep burgundy. The woman in the center is what I call the “transition” color because her shirt is a mixture of slightly orange and slightly pink…sort of watermelon.

The man in the second row down with the turban is the transition between the gold and the coral shirts. The four of us in the lower left probably should have been reversed so that the lime green shirt was next to the greenish gold shirt.  But how much rearranging could I expect my fellow travelers to put up with?

Fortunately, this shading addiction led to my creating the 150 shaded fabrics in my Palette Collection along with the Portable Palette.


portable palette


I will be taking another trip with Sew Many Places this October to Nepal. There are still a few spaces left. It is a colorful country and I’m looking forward to going once again. It’s not too late for you to sign up and join me for this fabulous tour.





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2016 Pantone Colors: Yes, You Can Work With These

There has been a lot of talk and hype about the “2016 Pantone Colors of the Year”. Have you ever wondered why when you go to the mall in a new “season” that all the colors seem the same, that accessories coordinate and seem similar, etc? Well, there truly is a system in place to get people to use and buy certain colors each year.

When I first began designing fabrics in 1981, I was handed a board with some colors on it and I was told that those were the “in” colors for the coming year and I should design my fabrics using those colors.

My answer was that by the time the fabric was printed they would be on to a new set of colors. Even if the fabric came out in time, by the time a quilt was made with the fabrics, those colors would be out of style. I put the colors aside and just did my own thing and still do.

But let’s get back to the “2016 Pantone Colors of the Year” that have many people ready to upchuck. Here they are.

2016 Pantone colors
Rose Quartz and Serenity Pantone 13-1520 and 15-3919.

First and foremost, I want everyone to know that when I recolored my Carnival border print for my new border basic group almost a year ago, I was totally unaware of what the colors of this new year would be…but here it is.

Carnival border for pantones

It kind of looks like I was following the “Color God” rules, doesn’t it? Even more so when I created this quilt, High Tea, for the collection to show how effective the use of a border print can be in a simple design with a border print setting block.

Star and cone quilt 3 sm (1)But never mind. There is a more important point to make. I have taught my color class hundreds of times and in that class I always tell the students that it is my belief that you can put any colors together. It is not the colors you select but what you put with them that makes them look good. It is for this very reason that back in 1990 I developed my Palette Fabric Collection. It contains 150 colors that span the spectrum and they were designed in subtle prints to coordinate with other prints, borders, multi-color prints, etc.

My basic color theory is that whatever colors you select, you have to add whatever colors you need to get those to shade together. It’s like looking at a rainbow where you never know where one color ends and the next one begins–a smooth gradual shading. You can shade through darks, through lights or through medium tones.

So looking at the Pantone colors again, what happens if I add other colors to get those to shade together? The two colors in my Palette that come closest to the Pantone colors are #40 and  #133.Pantone colors with palette

There are many ways two colors can be shaded together. Here are three variations. There are many others.

Pantone blog palettes

So next time you see two colors that you just don’t like together, think again. Bring in other colors that will allow the shading to occur and you might surprise yourself!

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Gearing Up For Quest

???????????????????????????????To say things around here are a bit busy would be quite an understatement. At home, I have been busy working on my next line of batiks, adjusting the colors and patterns to try to get everything just right. Meanwhile in the Studio, we have the annual mad rush to get ready for the thousand quilters who will be visiting us during Quilters’ Quest which starts tomorrow.

Every “Quester” who comes into our shop and all of the participating shops receives a free pattern for that shop’s quilt and they have the opportunity to collect 10 inch squares used in each of the quilts. You have probably seen pictures of our design, Calliope. Not only have we been busy working on kits for Calliope but also making other quilt kits which fit this year’s theme, “Sunrise on the Potomac.”

???????????????????????????????We have several staffers who have been spending the past week doing nothing but making beautifully shaded fabric bundles. We also have some great new products that we picked up at Market. We can’t wait for you to see them.

Look at that beautiful border print skirt that Carole is wearing!
Look at that beautiful border print skirt that Carole is wearing!

Jinny making bundlesWe hope you’ll visit us during the Quest. We still have room on each of our buses if you’d like to join us as we visit all 10 shops. The Quest starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday, November 15. For more information visit www.quilters

The shop is ready and stocked for you to come and enjoy this year’s Quest! We hope to see you there!

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Finished at last….and finally ready for Quest!

You’ve been following with me as I’ve created my quilt for this year’s Quilter’s Quest and here it finally is, my finished quilt top, Calliope. The journey has been a fun one from its design just this summer to the final appliqué stitches.

Quest Quilt 2015

I have been enjoying doing some applique designs and have been influenced by the ox cart wheels that I saw in Costa Rica earlier this year and also by the beautiful applique of the tentmakers of Cairo.

Ox Cart in Costa Rica
Ox Cart in Costa Rica
Cairo tentmakers
A tentmaker in Cairo

Planning for the Quest started long before I began this quilt. All of us at the 10 participating shops look forward to our shop hop and work hard to make it fun for you because it’s so much fun for us. We love seeing old friends, making new ones and revel in the festive atmosphere.

Each shop has designed and made a quilt just as I have, using our color-coordinated 10-inch squares. When you visit a shop, you will receive a free pattern for that shop’s quilt. The colors this year are the bright and cheery tones of a sunrise and blend well together. If you make it to all ten shops you can collect all of the fabrics used in the quilts and will be eligible for some fantastic prizes. As always, we have exclusive fabrics designed just for the Quest featuring images special to our region.

quest chart

mark-this-date-clip-art-398014We have been working very hard gearing up for your visit, making special projects, assembling kits, and preparing demonstrations. We still have a few places on our two buses and would love to have you join us along with quilters from across the country.

Mark the Quest dates on your calendar, November 6 – 15, and make plans to visit us all during the Quest.