Parents, Paper Piecing and KC Maker Studio & Fabrics

After a nice weekend in southern Kansas, we made our way up to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. I knew it was going to be a special Sew Together Tuesday for a couple of reasons: we were using my friend Sam Hunter’s “Bloomin’ Too” pattern and we were visiting a brand new shop: KC Maker Studio & Fabrics.

We’d worked together with Hunter’s Design Studio to get her patterns in stock for the event, plus she had all the Sweet Strips and a nice variety of Cuddle® fabrics in stock, ready to go. I felt pretty good about it, despite not having as much prep time as I would have wished.

As we were getting set up and I was making a post on Facebook about the day’s show, Hawke told me I needed to help him get something in the RV, so I started heading that way, still typing away and he started recording…

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10 Tips for Sewing with Cuddle Minky

If you are new to sewing with minky fabrics, I know they can be a bit intimidating. Minky is completely different than quilting cotton, requiring different techniques and tools.

I’ve found that lots of quilters have wanted to use minky, but when they’ve tried it with their quilter techniques, it’s been a frustration. Cuddle® is the Shannon Fabrics brand of minky fabric and I work with it exclusively (obviously, since I’m their National Educator!) and along the way I’ve learned a lot that can help learn to tackle this fabric in a way that makes is successful and not stressful.

For Sew Together Tuesday, we visited Red Roxy Quilt Co. in Decorah, Iowa and filmed this updated version of the 10 Tips:

You can read more about the tips that I shared and get the downloadable PDF over at the Shannon Fabrics blog!

Happy sewing!

Studio Visit with Heather Jones

When I first met Heather Jones, years ago, she was creating quilt patterns and I was enamored by her oversized-quilt-block style. I bought a couple of her patterns, chatted with her at Quilt Market when we’d see each other, and followed along with her career trajectory via Instagram.

Over the past few years, I’ve watched as she made the transition from pattern designer to textile artist, intrigued by both her technique and her path.

I realized we would pass near Heather’s studio in Dayton, Ohio on our travels so I reached out and she was kind enough to let me visit her. She has a fabulous studio where she shares space with Divisible Projects, a joint effort with her husband, Jeffrey Cortland Jones.

“Chasing Down the Days” by Heather Jones, 2021 + additional works

I don’t know a lot of folks personally who work in textiles as their art form, so getting the chance to talk to her was ridiculously fulfilling. Coming from an art background, moving through the craft of quiltmaking and back into art as a textile artist in her own right, Heather’s perspective is different than mine. I come from it from the craft side and trying to find my feet in it as an art form.

To me, this is a fascinating difference and one that I’ve discussed with Hawke numerous times. I have never been one to just draw something. I don’t doodle. I don’t have a drive to pick up a pencil and sketch something. Ever. I’ve never taken an art class. All of this to say, that creating a piece that “says something” isn’t how I’ve worked.

“Your Voice Was All I Heard” by Heather Jones, 2021

I come from the craft side, which means I prefer to follow sewing patterns and sometimes even (gasp!) buy quilt kits. It isn’t that I’m not creative, I’ve realized, but rather that I haven’t been taught how to translate my thoughts into art. This past year I’ve been trying to learn more about this and push myself to understand this transition and what I want from it.

This fed right into the conversation that Heather and I had. I picked her brain on how she works with the fabrics and what the overarching goal is. I got to ponder my obsession with perfection and how it keeps me from exploring techniques the way I truly want to. She shared how the imperfections and inability to control exactly what the fabric does is what brings joy to the work.

This rumination about perfection and control is really what stuck with me. We spoke about the Gees Bend quilters and the imperfectly perfect quilts that have come from them. About the quilts that have just a few blocks with a different background because the maker ran out of fabric. The wavy lines that come from stretching a quilt block when you didn’t account for the grainline.

Create wall mural

In that discussion I found the root of my struggle to feel like a textile artist of any sort. How do I start if I give up the drive for perfection and control?

The morning convo with Heather inspired me in ways that I hadn’t expected and made me think about things I hadn’t really thought about. I see her art with new eyes, new admiration and it inspires me.

Go. Do. Make. Art.

Hitting the Wall

I like to think that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Years of solo parenting made me work through some seriously difficult days, but the truth is that sometimes my body says nope. This week was one of those times. 

We’ve had an intense month with 3-4 days of teaching and 2-3 days of driving every week for the last four weeks.  I knew the teaching days would be exhausting, but I honestly expected that on driving days I could pull out the ol’ laptop and get a bunch of work done. 

Nope. 

The truth is that driving the RV is intense. It requires a lot of concentration from Hawke. I have to help with navigation because Google likes to choose the most inane routes. It’s super loud from both road noise and the internal rattle of a household in constant motion. Driving feels like you are on a boat, rocking from side to side and up and down due to road construction, or roads in dire need of repairs, everywhere.

We finished up classes at Blue Bar Quilts on Wednesday evening and headed south to the Iliinois State Beach Park. I’d bought tickets to go see the Bisa Butler exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago and went to bed eagerly anticipating the day in Chicago with Hawke—our first real day off!

On Thursday I woke up feeling like utter crap. My body decided to give me and my plans the finger and instead of seeing the beautiful quilts and art and architecture of Chicago, I laid in bed and stared into space for hours. 

Thankfully I was able to convince Hawke that he didn’t need to stick around and do anything to “take care of me” and he took off for adventures of his own, including seeing the Bisa Butler exhibit.  

Three days later, we are chilling out in Ohio and I’m feeling better again. My body and brain just needed a break and so they forced it on me. I’m feeling better and making headway on the to-do list over here.  From here on, we are taking it a little easier with less teaching (except for the week I’m at the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo with Sew It Up Bernina), less driving and more time to recharge.  

See you Tuesday from Quilt Beginnings in Dublin, Ohio! 

Sew Together Tuesday and the ultimate Shop Hop

If you’re like me at all, you love a good shop hop. It’s always fun visiting new stores and checking out the displays, the fabric selection, the notion wall… all of it! Starting in less than two weeks, I’ll be embarking what I think will be the ultimate shop hop.

Hawke and I are taking our Sew Together Tuesday on the road and doing our Lives from 10 different shops across America, every Tuesday a different store in a different state. Crazy, right?! Yes, but it’s going to be so great!

You’ll be able to join in, both in-person and online for the Tuesday sessions, but wait… there’s more! HA! I’ll be teaching additional classes in each of those shops, plus a slough of weekend classes as well. I’ve listed them all in my calendar, so keep an eye on those upcoming events listed to the right —–>

Over the twelve weeks I’ll be teaching at 16 different shops:

Cali Quilt Co (Rancho Cordova, CA) 
The Fig Leaf Quilting (Fort Collins, CO)
The Quilt Shop (Wakefield, NE)
Old Alley Quilt Shop (Sherburn, MN) 
Red Roxy Quilt Co (Decorah, IA)
Time Flies Quilt & Sew (Negaunee, MI)
Blue Bar Quilts (Middleton, WI)
Always in Stitches (Noblesville, IN) 
Quilt Beginnings (Dublin, OH)
Sew It Up Bernina (Hurst, TX)
Poppy Quilt & Sew (Georgetown, TX) 
KC Maker Studio & Fabric (Kansas City, MO) 
The Pin Cushion (Mitchell SD) 
Sew On & Sew North (Langdon, ND) 
Quilts & More (Sidney, MT) 
Backdoor Quilt Shoppe (Billings, MT) 

I can’t wait to get out there and share the LQS love with everyone. I’ll be doing store spotlights and impromptu visits, searching out and sharing shops along the way.

If you’re interested in following along on our travel adventures (especially on our days off!), make sure to subscribe to Makers At Large, the blog I am doing with Hawke.

Friends are an excuse to make

You know how there are some friends who are just steady, its-ok-if-we-see-each-other-once-a-year friends? Jaymee is one of those and I was lucky enough to have her visit me just a couple weeks ago. We ate sushi, walked on the beach, visited the desert and made a couple handkerchiefs for her pup.

Using a pattern I found on the Spoonflower blog, I made a small version for little Pablo using some batik and cotton scraps. Then I used my Embrilliance software to design a little embroidery with his name (in a cute, but not cutesy font). We stitched it out and he loved it! Okay, we love it and he tolerated it.

But he tolerated it well enough, we made him another, this time in Essex Linen and it was perfection! For not being an animal person, I really did love it.

No matter what your reason is, just keep making…for you, your friends or your friends’ pets.

Happy sewing!

New Embroidery Designs + the Brumby Pouch

Before work and on the weekends, I’ve been collaborating on embroidery designs with my artist daughter and we finally (finally!) have a couple available! There are two versions: one pincushion with a happy little face and one pincushion with a strawberry. The images are her original artwork that I digitized and I’m pleased as punch with them!

I wanted a way to show off the design and decided I would do it on a bag of some type, so I started looking through patterns and found that I’d bought the Brumby Pouch pattern from Sew Sweetness and it was perfect. It’s part of her Minikins Season 3 package, a fab collection of 12 PDF patterns and videos that show you how to do each.

I have used Sew Sweetness patterns a few times over the years and I’m always impressed with her pattern writing and her attention to detail. There are some patterns that are “quick and easy” and that’s their selling point. The thing I love about Sara’s patterns is the fact that your finished bag is going to be well-crafted and beautifully finished. She gives little details and hints to make the most of the pattern and I have loved every bag I’ve made with her patterns. If you’re new to working with her patterns, read them carefully, watch the video and trust her. It will turn out great!

The pincushion appliqué was made with Cuddle® minky (shocking, I know!) and I love the way it turned out, so textural and fun. It is available now in the Etsy shop in  DST EXP HUS JEF PES and VIP files. If you get it and use it, please tag me! I’d love to see what you do.

Happy sewing!

Oops–a cutting mistake & how to “fix” it

Sometimes I shouldn’t be talking while using a rotary cutter and this was the result recently. I was making a sample for an upcoming Sew Together Tuesday and instead of cutting the square, I kept on cutting into the fabric. Oops! Considering this was nearly two yards of Cuddle® fabric, I wasn’t about to just throw it away and start over. I had to figure out a way to fix it.

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Accuquilt Gallery Spotlight

Last fall the folks at AccuQuilt invited little ol’ me to be a part of their gallery and, of course, I said “Yes, please!” I knew I would send some of my favorites, but also used the invitation as a starting point for the American Travels series I’m working on. You can read the interview on their blog or watch just the gallery tour and conversation below:

Make sure to check out the close-up of Wyatt Wolf–he’s a Luxe Cuddle/faux fur cotton version of Violet Craft‘s Wolf Abstractions pattern and several years later, I still love him.

Thanks, Accuquilt for the spotlight and for the fabulous cutting system. I use their dies often in my personal quilt making as well as for Shannon Fabrics projects and have come to appreciate their ease of use and longevity. I’m sure I’ll be using them plenty more in all my quilt making.

I’m glad I finally got to share it with you.

Happy sewing!