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Garden Club of Virginia

It has been a year since the Garden Club of Virginia asked if we would be willing to have our house and gardens on the annual Historic Garden Week tour which takes place each year at this time. I have been working ever since getting the house and gardens in tip top shape.

 

Hellebore and boxwood abound.

 

With the tour taking place after a spell of unusual weather, I worried that there might not be any color, that it would be after the redbud and dogwood bloom and before many of the perennials, peonies and other flowering trees and shrubs were out. But we have had a late and cool spring and with the redbuds just starting to bloom, the dogwoods are beginning to open their flowers, late daffodils are still out and my ever-favorite spring perennial, the hellebores, are still in full glory.

 

Redbud encircling the property will be in full bloom.

 

I thought those of you who cannot come on the house and garden tour might like a little preview of some of what is blooming. Also, you can get a sneak peak at some parts of our house in this video clip that was filmed a couple of weeks ago. The shop owners who are all a part of our annual Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop met at my house for some of the planning for this year’s event.

 

Come and see the cherry blossoms…

 

 

and the lilacs…

 

I will be at the shop tomorrow from 10-4 on April 24th to greet people from the tour and others who would like to take a drive and enjoy our beautiful spring.

 

and the daffodils…

 

 

and don’t forget the Virginia bluebells!

 

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Creating a tessellating design from a traditional block.

We get questions periodically from our blog or from Facebook. One came in recently from Catherine S. who said she was looking for an old tessellating pattern of mine called Wind Chimes. I looked for it in my encyclopedia of more than 4,000 pieced patterns, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns. It wasn’t there so I realized I must have forgotten about it and failed to include it in the book. I then searched for the name on my computer and found it! I designed it in 1999.

 

 

I realized that this block was a good subject for a blog (thank you, Catherine), mainly because it illustrates how different a design can look and how you can create an interlocking or tessellating pattern from a traditional design.

First of all, the block itself is an adaptation of an old traditional block known as Windblown Square or Balkan Puzzle. I made two changes in that block to create Wind Chimes. I divided the center square into triangles and eliminated the lines shown.

 

 

Most people would color either of those two designs in a traditional way as shown below.

 

 

However, to create an interlocking or tessellating design you color it differently. Two opposite quarter sections are colored dark and the other two opposite quarter sections are colored light.

 

 

To get the interlocking effect, four blocks are pinwheeled with the darks coming together at the center; then these four block units repeat to form the design.

In the original quilt I did not color the center triangles light and dark but used a border print in those four triangles. It is easier than it seems to create a border print square by fussy-cutting four identical triangles from a border print fabric. Click here to see my lesson on how it’s done. 

 

 

Through the years, I have taken many traditional blocks and made subtle changes to give them an entirely different look when made into a quilt. Give it a try. You’ll be amazed at what you can create.

I will be teaching a class on Designing Tessellations at the Studio next week for all of you who are interested in this fascinating technique, there are still some openings. Hope to see you there!

 

 

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The Background Makes a Difference

With our new BOM, Kyoto Mystery, fresh in my mind and as I was working on a quilt design for a new fabric collection, I couldn’t help but think of the very first Block of the Month quilt that I created, Moon Glow, back in 2000. It has undoubtedly been the most popular quilt pattern and kit I have designed.

But I have a little story to tell you about Moon Glow. I’m telling you this because I was struggling with what to do for a background on the new quilt I am working on for the upcoming Denim collection.

Moon Glow has 12 different compass style blocks alternating with a log cabin style block. My friend, Carole, was helping me with the quilt so we could meet the deadline for RJR. I pieced the compass blocks by hand and Carole did the other blocks by machine.

 

 

Once all the blocks were complete we laid them out to see how they all looked. We were very disappointed. There was just too much contrast between the compass blocks and the alternate blocks. The design seemed more disjointed than cohesive. All that work and the design just wasn’t looking right. We finally determined that it was the light background behind the compass blocks and that they would look better with a black background. It was too much work to take out the light and replace it so we decided we needed to make a new set of blocks with a black background. We donated the discarded blocks to a fundraising venture and started again. Here you can see an image of the light background versus a dark background. Do you agree with our decision?

 

 

So, as I was working on Denim Star, I had the same problem. There was just too much contrast between the background and the rest of the design. I’ll have images to share with you as soon as RJR releases the collection and the quilt pattern is ready sometime in late summer or early fall. It will be a free download.

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Busy Month – At Least We Are Not Bored

 

It has been a super busy month. We started selling kits for our new Block of the Month (BOM) mystery quilt, Kyoto Mystery, as soon as the March newsletter went out and have been busy getting the kits in the mail. Judging from the response, you are as excited about this as we are. Be sure you are signed up for our free monthly newsletter because the first clue and video lesson will appear in the April newsletter which will go out on April 7, around 5:30 PM EDT.  If you are not yet signed up, you can sign up on our website here.

 

 

Adding to the hustle and bustle going on is that we are in the throes of launching a new web site. In 1990 my son, who had started a fledgling web site development business, said I needed a website and proceeded to set one up for me. He eventually sold his business and we have been with that company ever since. Now they are handling much larger clients with more sophisticated software and can no longer continue supporting our site. So, for the last year we have been in the process of developing a new site. We are letting you know this so you won’t be shocked when one day you come to find us and will be greeted with a new look.

 

 

Many of you may be like me. I hate it when I go to a site that I visit often and find it all changed around. We are working hard, though, to get everything moved over to the new site. Have patience and you’ll find that all of the tips, lessons, products, etc. are still there. It may take you a few minutes to get acclimated to the new look.

And with all of this going on, we had some truly unusual weather. The big east coast windstorm hit our area and knocked out power to many homes and businesses. Our shop was without power for two days and at my house, it was four days before we got our power back. I couldn’t help but think of the poor people in Puerto Rico who are still without power and count my own blessings that it was only four days for us. So many people north of Virginia have been hit worse by the storm and another is on the way.

 

 

Have heart. Spring is on the way. I always know it is close when I am greeted with the beautiful blooming Hellebores in my yard.

 

 

 

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Learn Without Leaving Your Sewing Room

Often I hear comments from some of you that you wish you lived closer and could take advantage of some the classes that I teach. Many of you watch our class calendar and plan your trips to the Washington, DC area so that you can attend my classes. One of the most popular ones I teach is Quiltmaking by Hand. In that class, I cover all of the techniques you would need to know to tackle any hand piecing project. Those techniques include:

Supplies to have on hand
The basic running stitch
Making templates
Joining 4 points
Sewing curves
Joining 3 points
Joining 8 points
Setting in seams
Working with border prints

 

 

It occurred to me as I was proofing the DVD containing all of the video lessons for the 2017 Mystery Quilt, Moroccan Mystery, that everything I teach in my Quiltmaking by Hand class can be found in that DVD. The lessons in the DVD include all the techniques described above. You do not need to make the Moroccan Mystery quilt to learn the techniques. The DVD works as a stand-alone product for learning all the basics of hand piecing.

 

 

Speaking of a “mystery quilt,” our 2018 Mystery Quilt, Kyoto Mystery, will be launching April 7th. Subscribers to our newsletter will receive the first clue and video lesson on that day. The quilt is rectangular, 59” x 63”, and we are preparing kits in the four colorways shown here. Those kits will be available for purchase starting March 3rd. Keep an eye out for our March newsletter.

Watch this video teaser for more information on our new BOM mystery quilt.

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Looking Ahead to the New Year

The new year has started off with a flurry of activity. After a great week over the holidays with the grandkids out west (Polly loves her Ever Sewn Sparrow 20 sewing machine and has already put it to a lot of work and Emmett loves his drum set…given after I checked with the parents first) and a week recovering from the bug everyone has, I dug in and started preparing for all that lay ahead this year.

 

 

First off, I’m putting the final touches on our 2018 Block of the Month program. Everyone loved the mystery quilt theme last year so we decided to do another this year. Several of you asked for the quilt to be a little larger so it could be used as a lap quilt or throw so we have made it both rectangular and larger. The size of the quilt is 58” x 63”.

 

 

Once again there are video lessons to go along with each clue and the pattern and lessons are free to subscribers of our newsletter. If you do not receive our free monthly newsletters, be sure to sign up on our homepage. The first clue will appear in the April newsletter.

I have designed this year’s quilt in four colorways and we will have kits available. Information on ordering the kits will be in our February newsletter.

On another note, we have already had our first meeting for the 2018 Quilters’ Quest, our annual shop hop. The most important thing for now is to mark the dates on your calendar. Because Quilt Market and Festival in Houston are a week later this year we didn’t want to push our dates any closer to Thanksgiving. Therefore, the 2018 Quest is scheduled for October 19th through 28th. The weather should be warmer, the fall colors beautiful for your drive, and we will not yet have set our clocks back so it will be lighter! All good and we look forward to another successful year.

 

 

This past Quest we had many people attend from out of the area. In fact, we had people from 32 of our states and four foreign countries. We hope to see even more of you this year. Each of the shops will be having at least one bus. So, leave the driving to us and sign up for one of the two-day bus tours. More information on the days of the buses will be available soon.

In this cold winter, at least here in the states, bundle up and have fun quilting!

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‘Tis the Season…For Quilting!

It is hard to believe that fall is past! Winter Solstice is upon us. This fall was such a whirlwind of activity beginning with visit to Oregon to see our grandchildren (and of course their parents), the Studio’s anniversary sale, then all of the preparations for our annual shop hop with Quilt Market sandwiched in. We also flew to California to spend Thanksgiving with one of our sons and his wife and are preparing to fly to Oregon for the Christmas holidays. It should be lots of fun.

A few weeks ago my 9 year old granddaughter informed me that she wants a sewing machine for Christmas along with lots of fabric…so how could I resist? She and her younger brother, Emmett,  did such a great job a year ago when they came to visit and I introduced them to the sewing machine. She took to it so quickly that I think she is ready. I got her a good beginner machine, the EverSewn Sparrow 20. I’ll keep you informed on how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

Amidst all of this I have been busy preparing for our 2018 Mystery Quilt. We had such a great response to this year’s quilt that we decided on the “mystery” concept again. I have designed the quilt in four colorways and there are a variety of techniques covered. As I did last year, we will film video lessons to go along with each clue. We have listened to your feedback and will once again have a smaller quilt. This time it will be a little larger, rectangular in shape and will be suitable for a throw, lap quilt or wall hanging. We are still finalizing the lessons and patterns and plan to have the first clue in either March or April.

On another note, I have a great gift or decorating idea. As the new year approaches, many of you will be in full-on mode planning weddings and either baby or bridal showers. During the 29 years of my annual Hilton Head Seminar, one of the decisions that always had to be made was what to do about the centerpieces at the banquet tables. Depending on how large the event, centerpieces can be quite costly.

 

 

This year at Quilt Market we found the Vase and Vessels Pattern by Amy Barickman for Indygo Junction. I came home from market with the pattern in hand and made a couple of vases using border print fabrics. The technique is similar to English Paper Piecing except the fabric is fused over the Fabriflair stabilizer instead of basted over papers. As I was working, the idea suddenly hit me that this would be a perfect project for a centerpiece for an event. Use the event colors and select fabrics to match those colors. Depending on the size of your vase, put a pint or quart Mason jar inside the vase and then select flowers in similar colors, as I did in the picture above. At the end of the event, one lucky person at the table could be the recipient of the centerpiece!

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy holiday season! If you are going to be in the Washington D.C. area over the holidays, we would love to see you. We will be closed both Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Jinny

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

I have been a bit lax in sending out blogs, but it has been an extremely busy time. We spent a lot of time getting ready for Quilters’ Quest, our annual shop hop. Over the summer and early fall, I designed, hand pieced and hand quilted our Third Rock quilt.

 

 

Next, I went to Quilt Market in Houston. It is always fun to see shop owners and old friends plus find new items to carry at the Studio.  Upon my return, I faced the 10 days of the shop hop. I love to be at the shop during Quest and am the “official greeter and passport stamper.” So I was there every day at least from 9 am to 7 pm and for the four days of our bus tour I was there from 7 am until 7 pm. While it was tiring it was even more exhilarating, meeting new people and seeing friends who have come in the past.

 

 

 

 

Our theme this year was “movies” and we chose “Around the World in 80 Days”. We had a popcorn machine (how can you see a movie without having popcorn?), hot air balloon lanterns, flags of the world and other products and decorations relating to the theme.

 

 

All in all it was a fun 10 days and we had a lot of participants from outside our local region. Why not think about participating in the Quest next year?

Many of you who have seen the Third Rock quilt have asked if there is a kit or pattern. Unfortunately, to make one just like my Quest quilt you have to have participated in the Quest since you needed to collect the swatches of 6” squares from each shop. However, I also designed the quilt in batik fabrics.

 

 

The kit comes in the two colorways shown here and has everything you need for the top and binding. While it looks very complex, it is actually quite easy to sew. The quilt is made with all straight line sewing, even though it has the illusion of curves. The kit also includes full size foundations printed on tissue paper.

Now that Quest is over, it is time for my favorite holiday of the year and I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The shop will be closed on Thursday, November 23 but will reopen at 10:00 am on Friday, November 24. Hope to see you soon!

 

 

Jinny

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Fall Frenzy

Fall is always busy for us at the shop. This is when we kick it into gear making kits, designing patterns and making all sorts of preparations for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. This is always a fun event. Our theme this year is “movies” and we selected “Around the World in Eighty Days” as our movie, so, of course, I had to design a quilt for our shop with the world somehow involved. I showed you bits and pieces of it in progress, but now it is complete, including the quilting.

 

Quilt Quilt for Blog 2017

 

Quilting on Quest 2017 Quilt

This quilt is foundation pieced and went together quicker than you can imagine. We call it Third Rock. It was made with the Quest Cuts, 6-inch squares that each shop will have available throughout the Quest. These are free with a $30 or more purchase, or can be bought for $4.00.  Each of the shops has made a quilt using the squares. As you travel during the shop hop, collect the free pattern for each shop’s quilt…10 new quilt patterns in all!

I used more than half of the 80 squares in Third Rock and then used the rest for another easy-to-make quilt that would be perfect for a little girl.  We are still adding the borders but will share this quilt with you soon.

To update you on our Hurricane Harvey quilts, we sent off our first batch of quilts to benefit the victims, more than 25 in all, and we still have more coming in. It was fun working with and meeting people who participated.

Chris, from North Carolina, even dropped by on her way to New York and brought four finished quilts to add to our ever-growing pile.

 

Chris from Roth Carolina

We used fabrics from our scrap bin to make some of the quilts. Here are two with the identical fabrics except for the dark and light sashing strips. It was fun to see how different they looked with just that one change.

 

Different Sashing

On a different note, do you recognize this vegetable?

Mystery Veggie

I’m still getting this vegetable, sweet and hot peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and raspberries from my garden. The winter onions are just popping up and I should have fall cabbage soon.

So, what is this vegetable?

I peel it, slice it raw, add some fresh mandarin orange pieces and lime juice and it makes a fabulous, refreshing salad. A few pecans are also good tossed in if you like. I grew this last year for the first time and will now always have it as part of my garden.

Do you have a guess?  Why it’s jicama!

Happy Quilting!

Jinny

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Join Us on the Quilters’ Quest Bus

Jinny has turned the blog over to me today so let me introduce myself. My name is Nancy Fallone and I’m half of the marketing team here at the Studio. That job keeps me behind the curtain at the Studio or at the keyboard at home working on newsletters, web specials, classes, Facebook and such but what I want to talk about today is the most fun part of my job. That would be organizing and riding on the Quilters’ Quest buses.

 

Ladies on Bus

 

Quilters’ Quest is our annual shop hop which encourages quilters to explore 10 area quilt shops this year running from November 9th through the 18th. For details on how the Quest works, visit http://www.quiltersquest.org/.

 

Quest Quilts

 

For many, driving to each of those shops can seem a bit daunting so we offer the option of riding one of our Quest buses.  As in the past, we have two buses, one on the weekend and one during the week each covering all 10 shops, each in two days. Jinny is there to greet you bright and early each morning with a continental breakfast and the chance to shop before the Studio officially opens. We then bid the Studio farewell and the true fun starts.

 

The Material Girls always have lots to tempt us.
The Material Girls always have lots to tempt us.

 

While traveling from shop to shop, the former park ranger in me just can’t resist passing along not only information on the next shop but a bit of area history and attractions. To ensure an attentive audience, prizes are given out in our famous trivia contests. We provide beverages and snacks along with an optional bag lunch.

 

What quilter wouldn’t smile with so much beautiful fabric and all those amazing quilts.
What quilter wouldn’t smile with so much beautiful fabric and all those amazing quilts.

 

Every shop on the Quest has a unique feel with new and different items.  There are demos and special projects many using fabric designed exclusively for that year’s Quest.

 

Dick and Wendy from Traditions at the White Swan
Dick and Wendy from Traditions at the White Swan

 

My favorite part of the Quest, though, is spending time with the wonderful quilters from across the country (and sometimes from around the world) who join us. I don’t know how we get so lucky to have such a great group each year.

 

It is always wonderful to see how well everyone gets along.
It is always wonderful to see how well everyone gets along.

 

I recently asked one of the quilters who has been with us each year about why she keeps coming back all the way from upstate New York. Linda had seen the Quest advertised in the newsletter but didn’t want to drive it.  When the bus trip started, she bribed her daughter, Belynda, who didn’t quilt or sew, into going with her by paying her way.  By the second shop, Belynda was buying fabric with ideas for what her mom could make.  But guess who sews now.

 

Mom, Linda, and daughter, Belynda, never miss a Quest bus trip.
Mom, Linda, and daughter, Belynda, never miss a Quest bus trip.

 

Linda writes “Last year when Belynda was expecting our wonderful gift of a granddaughter, we bought lots of fabric to make things for the baby. I said to her that I supposed that that would be our last Quest bus trip.  Her comment was ‘What are you talking about? My husband is perfectly capable of babysitting for 2 days!’”

Our weekend Quest bus is Friday and Saturday, November 10th & 11th (with just a few seats left) and our weekday bus is Wednesday and Thursday, November 15th & 16th.  Details can be found on our website. We would love to have you join us!

 

At the end of two days of serious shop hopping, everyone is still full of smiles.
At the end of two days of serious shop hopping, everyone is still full of smiles.