Sewdown Nashville

I feel so fortunate. That’s all I can think about after all of the amazing things that I got to be a part of this weekend at Sewdown Nashville. Every part of the trip held its own affirming moments, and I think I balanced being in the moment with making notes and taking pictures to share with all of you here. I got to meet some pretty special people, whether they were geeking out with me or teaching me something new.

First of all: Nashville, you are awesome– relaxed, authentic, unpretentious and beautiful. I got to travel with four other members of NJMQG (we met another two who drove there), and we arrived on Thursday night, intending to take in some southern culture. We didn’t make it off the tourist track in the one day we had before Sewdown began, but if Broadway is that cool, then I’m sold. We ate Tennessee ribs and danced in the honky tonks, where the music was great and the drinks were strong.

On Friday morning we visited the Frist art museum. The art deco architecture was stunning, and the exhibits inside had something for each of us, from Van Gogh and Monet to Goya and contemporary Nashville native Lain York. I had some amazing conversations about color and design, relationships and personal history.

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The Sewdown began with a reception at Anna Maria Horner‘s home and studio. It was so perfectly her– there was color and music and warmth radiating from every corner. And I mentioned that Nashville was unpretentious– for all the beauty and art and success that fills the house, it was completely real and approachable and lived in.

Next we stopped at a new fabric store, The Fabric Studio, for a little shopping before heading back to the gorgeous Loews hotel for Open Sew. I met some amazing women from North Carolina, eating truffle fries with some Shady Ladies from Asheville and sewing flying geese with friends of friends from the Raleigh-Durham area.

Saturday I woke up excited to learn from some of the amazing quilters leading workshops. First was Anna Maria Horner, who was just so effortlessly funny. She shared her modern corsage technique of building a fabric bouquet and set us off to make one that was our own. Let me tell you, when you show Anna Maria something and she says it’s pretty, it just might make you smile a goofy grin for the rest of the day.

There was lunch and a lecture by Elizabeth Dackson, then we were back in the classroom, this time with my quilting idol Angela Walters. I learned FMQ watching her videos, and it was so fantastic to learn from her in person. She is just as funny and lovely and warm and real as could be. I got to see some of her quilts in person, and she was so cool about me geeking out. FMQ practice plus Angela Walters equals happy Melanie.

Saturday at dinner we heard from Alexia Abegg and got a lot more comfortable with the awesomeness around us. The NJMQG girls had all made something to wear to Sewdown, so we modeled our homemade threads. (Mine is a Wiksten tank in Valori Wells rayon.)

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Open Sew on Saturday night was filled with raffles and laughter and not too much sewing for me. I did make a bunch of flying geese for my husband’s text quilt and take a picture of them on the hideous hotel carpet. I also met the lovely and talented Michelle through our mutual friend Ashley who was sewing at home in New Jersey.

Day two of classes, and we had so much fun improvising in Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s class. I tried to use a LOT more color than I usually do, and I really love the blocks I made. Plus, we did some skill building and learned how to do Y seams. I definitely needed to do that in person.

The lunch lecture was from Maddie Kertay of the Badass Quilters Society, and it was so inspiring and affirming. And then it was time for some paper piecing with the super talented Carolyn Friedlander. I gushed a little over her fabrics and bought some hard-to-find Architextures prints. Her block was pretty straightforward and so we got to sew and talk color. Watching her combine the colors in my stack was such a highlight. And I love the blocks that I made– I’m hoping to make more once I’m unpacked and settled back in.

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Carolyn demonstrates her paper piecing technique

We went straight from Carolyn’s class to the airport, and when there was some tension on the plane (the woman in front of me accused the man across from her of suspicious activity) Michelle and Daniela and I talked about all of our lovely experiences and shared stories to keep our minds occupied until we were safely on the ground in Newark.

I can’t express how fulfilled and recharged I feel, so I’m going to try to show it in my work moving forward. I can’t wait to get sewing again.

Sunday Stash – Drool-worthy solids and Christmas in April

I have been a good girl this year, at least when it comes to buying fabric. I made the BFF quilt, the Hexacabin quilt and You Are My Sunshine from mostly stashed fabrics, and I bought the Mihow quilt’s fabric for that specific project. I have had a few lovely gifts to hold my fabric addiction in check, but I have been exercising a LOT of self-control when I visit the fabric store.

This week, however, I had a list. I needed some fabric for Sew Down and some for the Christmas quilt, which needs to be cut and distributed to my bee mates at the next guild meeting. (Quick recap: I’m using my turn as queen of NJMQG’s block party bee to make a Christmas quilt that I would never make for myself.)

It didn’t take long to let go of my self-restraint. I walked into Rock Paper Scissors and said, “I’m here to shop!”

Oh man, that felt good.

Here are my spoils.

First up: the Christmas quilt. I wanted to have reds, cool grays and low-volume whites. I’m using some of my precious stashed whites to build from– my Botanics. These are from last fall (love that little pop of gold):

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So I got some rich reds

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And cool grays

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I’m officially super excited  about that quilt. It will go great with my Nordic Christmas decor and it will be modern and traditional and scrappy all in one.

Next up was fabric for a Sew Down class with Carolyn Friedlander (coincidentally the designer of my beloved Botanics above). She requires various 2″ x WOF strips for a paper pieced mini quilt. I decided to go with solids because I’ve been playing around with palettes and color combinations. I didn’t want to worry about prints, just about combining colors and shapes in ways that please me. And oh man, does this palette please me.

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From left to right, they are Kona Navy, Windsor, Slate, Salmon, School Bus, Curry, Butterscotch, Michael Miller Dirt and Kona Ash.

I am completely in love.

And once I was on a roll, it was hard to stop. I had been coveting some Grey Abbey by Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud 9.

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And these brand-new lovelies too:

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The bottom three are from Leah Duncan’s Meadow for Art Gallery. The top is from Sweet As Honey by Bonnie Christine. I think the Bonnie Christine print is going to be the back of my Sew Down mini quilt.

Speaking of which, I need to see those solids one more time:

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Unless I get a little time to sew this week, I might not be back until after Nashville! I’m really looking forward to it and to sharing my experience here when I get back. Until then, I’ll just be over here petting my fabric.

Linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash!

 

Molli Sparkles

 

Taking care of business

Hello! I’m in business mode this week, having just come off a very successful event for NJMQG– March Madness. I’m tackling my quilty to-do list like the proactive person I wish I was, because next Thursday I’m living the dream and heading to Nashville for the MQG Sew Down to take classes with some of my quilting idols (Anna Maria Horner, Carolyn Friedlander, Angela Walters and Victoria Findlay Wolfe, O.M.G.). I also have a big April guild meeting to plan and an exciting writing deadline at the end of the month, so I need to take care of a few things.

I thought I’d share some of the products of my week.

On Tuesday I churned out a bee “row” for Ashley featuring her beloved Chicopee and flying geese:

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Yesterday I made some samples for a new Building Blocks class– log cabins!

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Last night was Building Blocks: HST, and it was a hit! Here’s Ann with her block:

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And on top of everything, April is my month to be bee leader in our block party! I realized that I will never make myself the Christmas quilt that I wish I had, so I’ll be enlisting the help of my bee mates. I found this block in the Fresh Modern Quilts group on Flickr and laid it out to figure out the design. I’m going for a Nordic modern traditionalist vibe with low-volume stars, probably in Botanics. What do you think?

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Oh, and some VERY important business. Per tradition, the boys had to dance on the new baby quilt:

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You Are My Sunshine quilt (formerly the gold and gray quilt)

It’s Finished Quilt Friday! This quilt took a little while, but it helps when you are in love with the colors and fabric.

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I decided to tackle circles, something that I’ve wanted to make to expand my quilting skill set. I got some encouragement from experienced quilters and sought out tutorials. After making a few test blocks I bought some drunkard’s path rulers and went to town with my stash. Thirty six blocks later I got the hang of it. It was slow going but I’m so happy to have the confidence to use curves in the future. Here’s to practice, research and stepping outside your comfort zone.

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This golden yellow was never a color that I gravitated to until I started quilting, and now it’s my favorite color. There’s something about a bright pop of gold that brightens a room. I even think yellow quilts are warmer. It helped a lot in this seemingly endless winter to have something bright and beautiful in the work room.Image
I had a ton of hoarded yellow in my stash, so I’m not exactly sure what everything is (there’s some Anna Maria, some Thomas Knauer and Simply Color). I balanced it out with charcoal dots in the circles (acquired in SF) and Kona Ash around them. The background dots and the binding are both Dear Stella. I especially love that the fabrics all feature round shapes except for angles on the binding. Circles all around (see what I did there? tip your waitress!).

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I free motion quilted spirals into the circles and quilted straight lines in the negative space. I tried to keep all of the lines about 1/2″ apart. I love the little grids made when the lines intersect. I usually only like to use thread lighter than the fabric I’m working with, but I thought that silver looked really cool on the white and the prints. It’s Aurifil 2615 50wt.

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To bind, I decided to try a machine binding technique that my friend Ashley swears by. She took my Beginning Quilting class a while back and then tweaked the traditional binding methods I teach to make something that works for her. And it was amazing! If you want a quick and attractive way to machine bind, check out her tutorial.

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It measures 40″ square and will be a perfect baby quilt for a stroller or play mat.

I hope your weekend is yellow.

Curves and straightaways

I’ve been doing so much piecing lately that it felt really good to make progress quilting my gold and gray circle quilt.

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To recap a bit, I’ve been FMQing swirls in the circles.

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And I decided to quilt the space around them with straight lines about 1/2″ apart. They made these amazing little grids at the intersections:

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Here’s where I stand. I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out.

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I’m hoping for a finish this week. I feel the pull…