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Catching Up Blog

It seems like the last month has been a whirlwind. I can finally take a deep breath. Sadly, the baseball season is finished but what an amazing, or should I say “Astronomical” finish it was with the Nats winning the World Series. Being an avid Washington Nationals fan, I went to many games including several of the post-season games. In addition to that excitement, our Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop is over, I have just returned from Quilt Market in Houston and now I can play catch up.

 

Beautiful blue and white exhibit at Market.

 

 

Longtime customers Don & Sandy Gholson from NC with Sandy’s sister as they finished the Quest.

 

For those of you who have asked, we are working on a revision of our Open Book quilt pattern that we gave out during the Quest. (See last months’ blog.) The new pattern will be geared to a scrap quilt. In my mind, for a quilt like this, the more fabrics the better. I will let you know as soon as the new pattern is ready and give you some suggestions for fabrics to use.

One of the exciting things on my agenda is that I have agreed to be the guest quilter on three incredible trips with Craftours over the next year and a half. Full details are not yet available but I will let you know as soon as they have been finalized. Meanwhile you might want to put a tentative mark on your calendars for a wonderful experience exploring the treasures of ancient Greece, May 9-19, 2020, or join me October 3-14, 2020 on an exotic trip to Uzbekistan where we will discover the history, textiles, traditions and crafts of the Silk Road. The third trip is an ultimate Kenya Safari expedition, January 15-23, 2021.

 

 

 

 

For those who would like to participate, I am planning a small hand sewing project for each trip based on design influences from that country. We will have a three hour workshop at the beginning of the trip and informal sewing sessions during the trip. Details will be given in advance so you do not have to bring a lot with you…after all, we need to save space in our bags for shopping! I hope you can join me on one or even all three of these exciting experiences.

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Quilters’ Quest 2019 is Right Around the Corner!

This is a very busy time for us at the Studio. We are in the middle of our retail shop anniversary sale which is followed soon after by our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, from October 11th through the 20th.

The theme for this year’s shop hop is books. Each shop has chosen a favorite book and will use that particular book to decorate the shop. We’ll have special related items available for the people who take part in the Quest.

Our Quest colors are traditional ones reminiscent of a long-established library that fit the “book” theme. Each shop has put together a pack of six 10” squares using those colors. All of the shop owners got together and traded fabric squares and then created a quilt using those fabrics. Many shops have finishing kits to help you in making their quilt. You will collect a free pattern for each shop’s quilt as you travel the Quest, then have fun deciding on which quilt you would like to make!

 

 

I wanted our quilt to fit the book theme. I tried a variety of designs that all seemed too complex, then one of my staffers suggested a design like my quilt Inner City which she thought looked like books. I took the idea, elongated the pieces and created my new version calling it Open Book.

 

Inner City

 

 

 

Don’t panic! While the design looks involved with lots of angles, it is actually very easy to sew with all straight line sewing.

All the shop owners agreed that our fabrics would be in the mid-range with no super lights and no very darks. That way each shop could add what they wanted to fit their design. The first thing I did was to sort the fabrics into groups – very dark, dark, medium, and light. I added a few fabrics in the very dark and light ranges. The lightest fabrics would be the pages of the books, the others the book covers.

 

 

Then the fun started. I found C See’s 18” portable design mat invaluable as I laid out the pieces one section at a time. Then I could roll it up and the pieces would stay in place until I was ready to sew. The pattern writer, Elaine Kelly, did a masterful job in breaking the design down into easy assembly instructions.

 

 

Once the inside was complete I had to decide on a border for the quilt. Such a bold design needed a strong border. I opted to set the center off by adding a border of two stripes from my mini-stripe fabric, followed by the wide stripe of the Casablanca border print.

The finished top is 52” x 56”. I am now in the middle of hand quilting it and I hope to have all the quilting complete by the time Quest starts.

 

I continue to quilt on Open Book each evening.

 

It was such fun creating Open Book but I had lot of leftover pieces that were already cut and waiting to be sewn. I also had the narrow stripe from the Casablanca border and leftover mini stripe. So, I decided to make a “bonus” quilt from the extra pieces. The result of that is Stacks. One complete set of swatches collected from each shop and our finishing kit will make both quilts.

 

 

The Quest is fast approaching. I hope you will be able to join us.

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Are You Ready for Row by Row 2019?

As we were getting ready to post this new blog entry, some of us received by email a blog entry from last year.  It seems to have been floating around in cyberspace since then.  We apologize for any confusion.  Please ignore it but pay attention to the new entry below.

Row by Row begins this week!

We have been super busy preparing for the Row by Row Shop Hop. For those of you not familiar with the program, it is a worldwide shop hop. Each participating shop designs a panel for a quilt or a stand-alone mini quilt and creates a pattern for their row. You can travel to any of the participating shops and receive the free pattern for that shop’s “row” and most shops have kits available. Make a quilt from the patterns you collect. If it contains at least eight official rows, take it to a participating shop. If you are the first person to bring a finished quilt to that shop, you will receive 25 fat quarters of fabric. If your quilt contains the row from that shop, you will receive an additional prize.

 

Luke is waiting patiently there in the lower right corner for the crumbs to fall.

 

The theme this year is “Taste the Experience” and the designs are created to fit that theme. This year for fun, the shops who are all part of the Quilters’ Quest shop hop in October decided to get together and plan a coordinated quilt for the Row by Row shop hop. We decided to make each of our rows like a vintage diner sign. Since I am known for growing hot peppers and for my hot pepper jam recipe, our row shows the jam and the peppers. When you pick up your free pattern you will also receive the recipe for my hot pepper jam.

In order to simplify sewing all those letters, we created a printed panel for the sign and for the “hot” label. This makes creating the row so much easier!

We are also participating in the Row by Row Junior and have a free pattern for “Jelly” the jellyfish for any child who comes into the shop. Kits are also available for purchase.

 

 

Go to the Row by Row website to read all the rules and to find participating shops by state and country.

 

 

Since I know that many of you cannot travel to the Studio, I didn’t want  those of you who live far away to feel left out. In keeping with the spirit of the event and theme, I designed a tessellating pattern for both a lap size and mini size quilt which I call “Forklift.” Since these are not officially part of Row by Row, we have patterns and kits available online and in the Studio.

 

 

Plus, in addition to the Forklift quilts, we also have our “Palette Pleaser” fabric license plates. So, no matter where you are we hope you’ll be able to take part in Row by Row not only at your local shops but with the Studio, too.

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Not Too Soon to Plan Our Shop Hop Quilt Design

This is the time of year that I am working diligently on our quilt and pattern for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. The event is earlier this year (October 19-28), so I have to work even faster. As was the case last year, I want to share with you the planning and designing of the project.

The first step is to plan the color scheme. This year, since we selected the cruising theme “Anchors Aweigh,” we chose colors that are often reminiscent of warm tropical waters and sea glass found on the beach.

The next step was to decide on the size and amount of the fabric swatches each shop would have available for the customers to either purchase or receive for free, depending on the amount of their purchase. This year we selected six 2 ½” by the width of the fabric strips. Each shop selected six fabrics that would fit within the color palette shown here.

At our next meeting, everyone brought 10 sets of their chosen 2½” strips and we participated in a “swatch swap.” Each shop went away with 10 sets of fabrics, one set from each shop for a total of 60 different fabrics.

 

The lovely fabric swatches from all the shops.

 

Now is when the fun begins. Each shop must make a quilt using as many of the swatches as they can. They can also add other fabrics if they wish. One of the perks of the Quest is that you receive a free pattern for a shop’s quilt when visiting during the Quest. Participants can collect all the swatches and decide which of the Quest quilts they like the best. Most shops have “finishing kits” available to make their version of the quilt.

Since the cruise destination for our shop is Hawaii, I wanted to design a quilt that would fit in with that theme, and thought the beach at Waikiki with its high rise hotels seemingly emerging from the sea would be a perfect inspiration.

 

Photo courtesy of staffer Nancy Fallone.

 

Sixty-degree diamonds are one of my favorite shapes, and since they are very easy to cut from 2 ½” strips, a fragmented, shaded diamond design seemed a perfect choice for the Studio’s quilt. Value placement is so important in this type of design so I always do preliminary designing in black and white. I tried shading the diamonds in two ways, dark to light lengthwise and dark to light sideways. I played around with the configurations of these two block units until I arrived at a design I liked. It is actually a takeoff on one of my personal quilts from several years ago…I will share this with you when the finished quilt is revealed.

 

 

Stay tuned. Next week I will share with you how I sorted and shaded the fabrics.

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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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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.

 

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Half Square Triangles

The half square triangle is certainly one of the most used shapes in patchwork. Have you ever thought about how many different arrangements you can make by simply putting a light half square triangle next to a dark one and then arranging them in as many ways as possible?

 

half square triangle illustration (1)

 

Here are just a few examples that are in my book, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

 

Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns

 

Blocks from QA

With my interest in all things patchwork, imagine my delight when during my recent visit to the International Patchwork Festival in Sitges, Spain, I encountered 55 benches with decorative patchwork tile designs, all made with half square triangle tiles.

 

Promenade

 

promenade 2

I was walking with my son, Sean, along the promenade that runs along the beach when I saw the first bench. I remarked on how neat that was. Then sixty steps later there was another one and another after sixty more steps.  Before long I realized that each bench was different, with a different design.

We walked for about a mile and a half and altogether I counted 55 benches, all made with half square tiles. Each dark triangle was paired with a light one to create a square and then those squares were arranged in a variety of ways—48  squares (96 half square triangles) along the back of each of the benches.

Some of the benches appeared to be newer than others. Each bench had decorative tiles on the sides that corresponded to the designs on the backs of the benches. The older benches had spaces for 10 squares (20 triangles) and the newer ones had spaces for 6 squares (12 triangles).

So far I have not been able to find any two benches exactly the same. Some had duplicate designs on the back of the bench, but maybe the colors were reversed or the design was upside down on one of them. Also I found benches with the same design on the back, but one was an older style with places for 10 squares on sides of the bench and the other was the newer style with a spot for only 6 squares. A few were the same design but with different colored tiles.

 

bench images 1

 

bench images 2

I only made the discovery of these benches on our last day in Sitges. I wish I had had time to study them more carefully. I photographed most all of them and show 30 of them here.

I would like to know the history about these benches, who came up with the idea, how old they are, etc. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Meanwhile, how many other arrangements can you come up with using the same configuration of 10 square tiles across and three down?

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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.