June 27, 2013


A conversation with my grandma*

Me: So this publisher contacted me about writing a book
Grandma: Well, I hope you told them no!
Me: Um...

It turned out that one email from that publisher sent me down a path that resulted in me and Stash books falling in love and making a little book baby together: First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting: 24 projects for fearless stitching. 

Bucket list update. Write a book: check!

I honestly don't know what else to say. It comes out in two months and I'm so excited! If you're needing some free motion quilting practice, or if you know people who do, I hope you're a little excited too. I think it fills a need that no one else has filled and I feel good about that. 

So that's my biggish news. I promise I won't get fancy on you. I pledge to continue taking pictures with my phone and showing you funny things I sketched. And if you have any good ideas for how to promote a book, I'm all ears!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. But first: I love you guys. Thanks for reading my blog, even in the sparse months. Thanks for being so encouraging, sharing my posts and commenting on them. And you know, if you've thought to yourself "I should write a book," well, I agree. You should get on that. 

*In my grandma's defense I was pregnant and working full time when we had our conversation. She was right to make a pitch for my sanity.

June 23, 2013

Leafy Lines quilting design

Here is a new design I've stitched. People seem drawn to it. It's very simple and gives a nice organic effect. 

So you start with a slightly wavy line. When you want to add a leaf, stitch an arc for one side, then the other, coming back up to where you started. Finally, continue the wavy line, creating the center vein of the leaf as you do. 

Repeat this, staggering the placement of the leaves. Leave some space between the lines with leaves. 

Now stitch a line adjacent to one of the leafy lines. Let the line have some wiggle to it. When you come to a leaf, let the new line echo around it. Do that again and again, letting each line respond to the lines next to it. 

I have a ratio of about one leafy line to three echo lines, but you can of course play with that, or use only leafy lines and no echo lines for a different effect. 

Here is what it looked like stitched up on some linen. 

June 13, 2013

Quilting On The Go blog tour!

I'm thrilled to tell you about a new book by my friend and mentor, Jessica at Life Under Quilts. It's called Quilting on the Go and it's all about english paper piecing from a woman who has made english paper piecing her anytime-everywhere-thing

It was a photo of Jessica stitching at the beach (the beach!) that made me realize I could do English Paper Piecing all sorts of times that I'm away from my sewing machine. My favorite places are big continuing education conferences and our local quilt guild meetings. Having my hands busy makes it so much easier for me to sit still. Like when I'm at my in laws'. No judgment. 

I decided to interview Jessica to give you a little more insight into the lovely person she is. 

Christina: How were you introduced to EPP? Are you self taught?

Jessica: I was on a guild quilt retreat on Cape Cod in January 2007.  A bunch of us were taking a break to check out the local quilt shops.  A friend picked up a pack of Quilt Patis EPP templates and I thought, "Hey, might as well get some now that I'm here.." (I'd like to see a show of hands-- who has ever said that in a quilt shop before?).  Between the instructions in the packet and a few photos on the internet, I started to stitch 60-degree diamonds into stars and kinda got hooked...

Christina: What is it like for you trying to do EPP when your child is awake? Mine always wants her own pieces. 

Jessica: I usually sneak in EPP when we are together but George is occupied with something else-- playdoh, sidewalk chalk, watching TV.  We can talk to each other but my hands are free to sew.  When he gets curious or wants to help, I let him count or sort basted pieces, or hand me pairs of paperclips.  If I've got a lot basted already, I'll let him line up the templates on the rug or make shapes out of them.  Since the baby though, EPP waits for nap time...

Christina: Yes, so much waits for nap time these days. So, why did you start a blog?

Jessica: I started blogging about quilting in 2006, after finding some cool pictures (and blogs) via flickr.com.  I was dissatisfied with the real-life quilt guilds in my area (too far, too inconvenient, too dull..) and wanted to find other like-minded quilters.  It took a while, but I found them. 

Christina: And how did you decide to write a book?

Jessica: I didn't set out to write a book.  I was fine with quilting and blogging about it.  But when I showed my friend Merrill how to make diamond stars with EPP, she commented that there weren't any books available to learn from and that I should write one.  I laughed, but when a publisher contacted me through my blog a year later asking if I was interested in writing a quilt book, I really couldn't say no.

Christina: I'm glad you didn't! Now, how did working on the book affect your home life?

Jessica: I have always tried to find a good balance between being a mother, taking care of the house, and finding time for myself (usually quilting).  Writing the book totally threw that balance out the window.  It didn't help that I decided to go back to work at the same time.  All the sudden I had lessons to plan, chores at home, a kid to play with and shuttle to daycare and playdates, papers to grade, emails to answer, dinner to cook, sewing to do and deadlines to meet.  Then I got pregnant!  It was pretty hectic; all of the step-by-step photography was done in my living room.  But with a lot of help from my awesome husband and really amazing kid, we made it.  (oh, and I completely stopped ironing shirts)

Christina: Oh my word, I never started ironing shirts! So, did writing a book influence your creative process?

Jessica: Being creative on a deadline really does change things.  Instead of spending a week or more choosing fabrics for a new project, I had to make fabric and color choices very quickly to get everything ready and packed for our 3 month trip to Athens in early 2012, where I stitched most of the projects and samples.  Part of it was really liberating because I could finally use all the color combos/color palettes that I had been pinning for my "someday" projects.  It was awesome to just pull and pull and pull fabric.  (Getting it all to fit in the suitcase was a different story.)  On the other hand though, making all of those quick decisions and then coming to a place where quilt fabric and supplies are hard to come by made it really tough if I wanted to change my mind about something.  And I am a true Sagittarius so I change my mind often.  I like to let a project evolve on its own, and don't usually have a clear ending in sight when I begin.  The timetable for the book didn't allow for that kind of creative growth, but I think I made it work.  Having all the fabrics chosen ahead of time did probably take away some of the stress later in the process, but as soon as the book was finished, I went right back to my natural slow order of creating-- I've had the same quilt on my design wall now for over a month..

Christina: A month? I've had this on my wall for over a year:

So who do you consider your sewing community? How are you influenced by them?

Jessica: I love my sewing community!  I mentioned before that I started a blog to find "my" kind of quilters.  Being a part of the quilt-blogging community lead me to the Modern Quilt Guild and, sure enough, I found a whole bunch of them at the very first meeting of the NYC Metro Modern Guild meeting at Victoria's house. I also found a few good quilty friends through the mom and baby exercise group I joined when my 4 year old was born.  And YES!  they influence me a lot!  I am lucky to have quilty friends come over to the house at least once a week-- sometimes for playdates, sometimes just to chat and sew, but this group of real-life quilters has kept me sane and motivated for years now.  (Thanks guys!)  My sewing community is larger than that though.  I share much of what I make and how I make it with the online community, and I am influenced by you guys as well.  I still read blogs when I have the chance, but these days I get most of my crafty interaction on Instagram.  Photos and friends all inside my phone?  Anywhere?  I don't know how I stayed at home when George was little without it.  Instagram makes middle of the night feedings so much more enjoyable.

Christina: I'm liking Instagram too! (Readers who want to follow, Jessica is @jessica_alex and I'm @afewscraps). OK, last question. Let's imagine we get to be roommates for quilt market someday. Discuss the theme song for our girl-time montage and suggest a signature adult beverage. 

Jessica: Theme song? I'll go with Owl City's Good Time...And for a beverage-- you choose mojitos or dirty martinis.  nothing that could stain the quilts, of course..

Christina: Oh, naturally! I'm so glad you decided to share what you love, Jessica. And I do hope we meet in person some day. Thanks for the interview! And thanks for including me on this tour. I mean, check out this list of great blogs that are participating. I have crushes on all these folks!

June 11     Lesly at Stitch Literate           http://pickledish.blogspot.com
June 12     Clare at Selfsewn                  http://selfsewn.blogspot.com/
June 13     Christina at A Few Scraps      http://afewscraps.blogspot.com/
June 14     Victoria @ Bumblebeans        http://bumblebeansinc.blogspot.com/
June 15     Amanda Jean at Crazymomquilts   http://www.crazymomquilts.blogspot.com/
June 16     Laura at Quokka Quilts                http://quokkaquilts.blogspot.com/
June 17     Lucy at Charm About You            http://www.charmaboutyou.com/
June 18     Katy at I'm A Ginger Monkey          http://www.imagingermonkey.blogspot.com/
June 19     Ara Jane at What Ara Jane Loves        http://whatarajaneloves.blogspot.com/
June 20     Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio Blog          http://www.pinkchalkstudio.com/blog/
June 21     Jessica at Life Under Quilts                http://lifeunderquilts.blogspot.com/

If you hop on over to the first link above there, there is a giveaway going on to win a copy of Quilting on the Go. Also, do not miss this, during the book tour (8 more days!) Paperpieces.com is offering readers 20% off their entire shopping cart, no minimum purchase, with the code UNDER20. This is where I got my pieces for my Sprocket quilt and I've been quite happy with them.

I imagine your local quilt shop will be carrying the book. But just in case, here's some links to places you can buy your copy of the book online.

I hope you'll take a look at this lovely, thorough book to start or continue your english paper piecing adventureIf you'd like a peek inside Quilting on the Go, definitely check out the other stops on the blog tour. Thanks for stopping by today, and see you soon!