Christmas quilt top and block pattern

Doesn’t Woody the fence look festive? The Christmas quilt top is done, and I’m celebrating!

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It’s my most traditional and intricate quilt to date. At 72″ square, there are more than 500 3″ finished squares of all different scrappy red, cool gray, and white-on-white prints.

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It fits my goal of making something festive but sophisticated, and it will be so warm to snuggle under next to the tree. I know it’s only September, but hopefully this is plenty of time for quilting and binding.

I’ve been asked about the pattern. I used this quilt from Flickr as inspiration to design a similar block to use in repeat, so I’m going to share the pattern I made to send to the NJMQG bee mates who contributed blocks.

Each finished block is 12 1/2″ unfinished and represents one quarter of a snowflake star. I outlined one block in black on my design to demonstrate:

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CUTTING DIRECTIONS

4 1/2″ squares: 4 white, 10 red, 10 gray

3.1/2″ squares: 2 white, 4 gray

MAKE HST UNITS

Make 1 set white/white, 2 sets gray/white, 8 sets red/gray, 2 sets red/white

There are lots of great HST tutorials out there. I like to put two squares right sides together and draw a line diagonally from one corner to another. I sew 1/4″ on either side of the line and cut on the line. Press open.

Trim HSTs down to 3 1/2″ square.

ASSEMBLE BLOCK

Lay out and assemble blocks with 1/4″ seam allowance according to the photo below.

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Voila! My quilt uses 36 of these blocks to make 9 full snowflake stars. I’d love to see other versions of the blocks, so if you make some, let me know!

Ok, one more big shot:

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Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!

Hippity Hop

Several embarrassingly long weeks ago, the lovely Stephanie from Late Night Quilter asked me if I’d like to participate in the Around the World Blog hop, and I thought it would be a perfect way to come back to the blog after several weeks of living more in the real world than online. It’s a chance to say hello, give a little melintheattic 101, and send some love forward across the interwebs. Thank you, Stephanie, for tagging me and being so understanding with my tardiness. (I was always the girl who broke the chain letter. Probably always will be.)

What are you working on?

Right now I am living and breathing my Christmas quilt, which, when finished, will be a quilt made of 468 half-square triangles and 108 3.5” squares. It is entirely red, white, and gray to go with my nordic-themed decorations, and was inspired by this quilt (when I saw it I was looking for inspiring star/snowflake-like patterns and I just had to see it in repeat). I had a lot of help— a little less than half the blocks were made by my bee mates from NJMQG. But the rest has been all me, and I’ve been hustling to get this top done so that I can get it quilted before the holidays come. I’m pushing for this week. I am almost done with the last eight blocks.

Here is one block: IMG_0016

Here’s four:

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And here are 16:

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As I plug through something that is growing increasingly tedious, I’ve been designing and piecing a new original design on the side. I’m hoping that it will be the first pattern that I write to sell, so I’m taking lots of notes while I sew. It is the opposite of elaborate and scrappy— the test block is just solids with thin piecing in Kona Snow and Tangerine.

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How is your work different from others’ in its genre?

I’m not sure how exactly my quilts are different, but I do know what feels most like “my” quilting. I aim for quilts that are simple and stunning. I like clean lines and bold colors, unusual neutrals and limited palettes. If I do go scrappy (and I love to, on occasion), I like to do it in monochromatic prints that blend together for overall effect.

Why do you write/create/do what you do?

This sounds overly dramatic, but I write and design and quilt because I have to. I feel compelled sometimes, and I always feel better after I do. I have written my whole life, as a storyteller, in journals, in poems, in correspondence, as a journalist, as a critic, as a copywriter. It’s a muscle that I sometimes let atrophy and then suddenly work out again until it’s strong and limber and easy to move. This year has not been so great for me and my writing, but I’m always working on it, and I’m loving how pattern writing exercises both my quilting muscles and my writing ones.

I quilt because it makes me feel productive and skillful. It fills my life with beautiful colors and beautiful people. It allows me to tuck my sons into their beds at night with my arms and something I made with my hands. Because quilting teaches me things about myself. It is fantasy, therapy, and reality check all rolled in together.

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How does your creative process work?

I know that I need to make a quilt when I have an idea that I just can’t shake. If the idea excites me and keeps me interested for more than a few days, I start to sketch. I make a rough sketch to start, then take it to graph paper or EQ7. When I love it there, I do the math and make a cutting list. Sometimes I just improvise and play around with placement until it looks right, like I did with my husband’s quilt. I try my best to listen to my instincts. I’ve found that my best creative moments come when I get out of my own way and wait to hear that inner click that says this is a good choice.

Enough about me! I’m happy to pass the blog hop along to two of my fellow New Jersey sewists who have become such amazing friends and confidants in the last year especially.

Melissa from A Happy Stitch is a fellow NJ mama and kindred spirit. My crush on her has blossomed into full blown love. Her love of making and her creative spirit are so evident in everything she does, and I often find myself thinking, what would Melissa do?She is also a teacher at Rock Paper Scissors and has walked me through making my first garment and my first bag! When I asked if she would like to be tagged next, she told me that she is also posting today, and tagging me to boot. Check out her answers for some instant blog hop gratification (as well as delicious photos of her beautiful self and her boys)

Daniela from Modern Stitch Studio is also a fellow NJ mama, a partner in quilt style, a talented graphic designer and an amazing cheerleader. She is super connected to the modern quilting world and everything she does and makes is fueled by her passion for life. Her blog is super new and shiny, so her turn on the hop will be a great “getting to know you” post.

The Wojo quilt

My awesome friend Sarah is due to have her first baby in October, and I’m so happy I was able to surprise her at her baby shower this weekend to give her this, the Wojo quilt.

 

 

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Wojo has been her nickname at least since the mid-nineties, when we had gym class together, signed out of study hall to play cards in the library, and kicked some major ass in Spanish class (she went on to study in Spain and teach high school Spanish, while I am now mediocre at translating game shows on Univision). When we were in college she asked for a food fight for her birthday, and we went swimming in the ocean afterward to wash whipped cream out of our hair. I am terrible at keeping in touch with people in general, but lucky for me, no matter how often I check in with Sarah, there is a plethora of laughs, delightful sarcasm, and extreme kindness.

As for the quilt, it’s made with Elizabeth Hartman’s (free!) pixel heart pattern. I set it off center and quilted it with angles as in my walking foot pillows.

Sarah’s registry was mostly green and gray, so I used Brussels Washer for a soft-textured background and contrasted it with a palette of brights I picked from a Kona jelly roll. I added in some yellow and orange for a fall feel, and because Sarah and her husband met at a Halloween party. The baby will be due right around the same time, so we had to pay tribute to the family holiday. Plus, I just love teals and oranges together. 

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The back is a Rashida Coleman-Hale print that I’ve always loved in white and teal, and the binding is Caroline Friedlander from Botanics. I used Aurifil from her Botanics collection in a minty teal for the quilting to match.

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She was definitely surprised to see me at the shower, and I was delighted that the quilt matched a lot of the other gifts she got (teal onesies with orange foxes!). She and her husband are going to be awesome parents, and I was so happy to make this fun quilt for my truly unique friend.

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Back to School

Today was the first day of school in our little part of New Jersey. My oldest did so well at his first day of Kindergarten, and my little guy started in the four-year-old class at preschool dressed all in black, “so I can look like a ninja.”

As we settle back into a fall schedule, it’s time to go back to the sewing room (as if I took time off!). More specifically, it’s back to school time for sewists too! The fall schedule is up at Rock Paper Scissors, where I’m teaching a full roster of skill builder classes, including HSTs, quarter circles, log cabins and walking foot quilting. I’m also teaching two classes in a partnership between RPS and the Monclair Art Museum– one on eight Wednesday mornings about inspiration and execution from the museum’s mid-century quilt exhibit– and the other a two-Saturday overview of the entire quilt-making process. All the information about classes and registration are on my class page. I’ll also be at a color story workshop at the museum led by the one and only Amy Butler. I hope that if you’re in New Jersey this fall you’ll think about signing up.

For those of you who don’t live in North Jersey, I have lots of quilty goodness coming your way. I have a special finish to share on Monday, and I am so excited to say that since my last post I have made the biggest quilt in my three years behind the machine– a twin-size stunner using Cloud 9 Cirrus Solids in a design by creative director Michelle Engel Bencsko. I’ll do a full reveal when the pattern is ready, but Michelle Instagrammed a photo of a little of it, so it’s no spoiler to give you this peek:IMG_7242

I’m really proud of this one. Check back for the story before Cirrus Solids and the hexies make their big debut at Quilt Market. Until then, I’m always on Instagram as @melintheattic.

 

Cloudy days are fine by me

Well, that was a crazy streak of teaching and events and not too much sewing. And now that I’m sewing a LOT more, I can’t quite show you what it is! I’m working on a sample for Cloud 9 Fabrics, with this deliciousness, their new Cirrus Solids, which are coming out in September.

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 It is so soft and the colors are fantastic. My camera phone pictures do not do it justice.

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It makes them that much more special to me that they are organic yarn-dyed cotton. All of Cloud 9’s fabric is organic and ethically produced. I’d thought in the past, when working with Cloud 9 fabric, that it would be fantastic if they had coordinating organic solids, and now they do. I’m not a stickler for organic products in general, but when I have the choice I always go in that direction. (I had planned to write this post all week, and it seems like it was for good reason. Cloud 9’s Gina has a post up on Sew Mama Sew today about their manufacturing process.)

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I just finished the top of this Cirrus Solids sample quilt– at 72″ by 90″ my biggest ever!

So that’s where I’ll be for a little while. I never thought I’d be looking forward so much to the start of school, but I’m excited by all of the ideas and opportunities that have come my way. I’ll have more time to dedicate to them as well as this space then.