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.

The Shark Ray quilt

Today was one of those days where there was no good news to be found. The world is in bad shape on so many levels in so many places. Luckily, I got to spend a rare day alone with my older son, Eli, who will be six in a few weeks.

Better yet, he wanted to sew.

Yesssssss.

Last summer, we made a pillow together. It was a big hit, and something we had on our to-do list for August. In June, the little marine biologist/paleontologist decided that his stuffed shark ray needed a quilt.

He very expertly chose my Carolyn Friedlander mini charms and requested that I cut a few extra orange squares from my yardage. What can I say, the boy has good taste. He picked the layout himself.

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He made it about halfway through piecing before getting bored, which was completely understandable for a near-Kindergartener. But after a little TV time during which I sped along, he was very pleased to see the size (it needed to cover shark ray’s tail but NOT his eyes), even though it wasn’t a rectangle. He thinks all quilts should be rectangles. He also thinks that the quilting would look best with straight lines AND zig zags, so we compromised and did diagonal cross hatch. The binding is a gray Dear Stella dot.

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It was the perfect little project for a day like today. Between this, Candy Land, and a little too much chocolate milk, we made today a day of simple but meaningful pleasures. I wish you the same.

 

Education Week

Somehow this past week was when ALL the classes were. Who scheduled my summer? Oh what, it was me? Past Me was not considering much else besides taking in knowledge and imparting it for the first week of August. Luckily I had some amazing company and everyone escaped not only unscathed but a little bit wiser. Thanks, Past Me. But phew.

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Monday kicked of Education Week with an NJMQG lecture from the MQG’s own Heather Grant. She was awesome enough to give us the first run of the Alternate Grid lecture that she’ll give at Quiltcon. It made me look at my quilt designs in a whole new way, gave me inspiration for designing in the future, and gave me lots to research. I saw so many awesome NJMQG friends, and we had plenty of guests too! Chris, a.k.a. The Tattooed Quilter joined us, as well as Jess from Quilty Habit and Michelle from Cloud 9 Fabrics (she even brought her husband!). I also got to spend time with Heather, who was fantastic company when we were in typical rush-hour Jersey traffic. 

On Wednesday it was week 4 of our 5-week Beginning Quilting series at Rock Paper Scissors. All that’s left for students’ baby quilts is binding, which we’ll do this coming week. I can’t wait to share the finished quilts– they are coming along beautifully!

Thursday was a big first for me– my first private lesson. It was really fun to set up the space and focus on one student. It’s a whole different flavor of teaching, and I’ll gladly taste it again. We focused on half-square triangles. Check out her fun fabric and fabulous points:

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I have to admit, though, that all week I was thinking about Saturday and Quilt Camp at Rock Paper Scissors. It was another first for me– my first time teaching a full day class, from 10 to 5. Throughout the week my anxieties swung from “will we fill the time?” to “I hope we have enough time to finish our projects!” I should have know then that the contradiction meant I was well-prepared, but a little bit of nerves never derailed me before.

Regular readers have seen my sample grow (here and here), and know that I was planning three lessons for Quilt Camp– curves, improv, and creative walking foot quilting. I gave students a lot of creative freedom, and the final projects were guided by everyone’s perceived strengths on each lesson.

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And you know what happened? The day flew by. I kept close watch on the time and guided all six students (a full workroom!) toward near-completion of the lessons. It’s a lot to take in in a single day, and they were so open-minded and kind.

 

I got all but one student in this shot– see? Kimberli is even blurry with motion. Ha.IMG_9490

In the end, each student’s mini quilt was a wonderful representation of themselves and their experience. They ranged from very traditional and technical to very improvisational and just about every shade in between.

Here are Judy, Kimberli, and Terri with their mini quilts. (Judy magically improvised an egg in a nest! So symbolic, considering she’s Kim’s mom. Love it.)

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At the end of the day, we were all tired and happy. I know everyone, myself included, picked up skills, and we exchanged tips and stories over lunch too.

I’m ready to get back to my own sewing this week. Education Week gave me a lot to process, and I’ll do it fondly.