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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.)



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.

Improv medallion borders

Hi! Remember my Quilt Camp sample? It’s growing…


It got this thin scrappy border early in the week. It’s just 1/2″ finished, and I decided to make each scrap about 3″ long. I wanted to add a little space and structure before adding the next border, which was planned to be a thicker scrappy improv slab. I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from Elizabeth Hartman’s Aviatrix Medallion as I figure out exactly what this is becoming. I like the idea of varying the width of the borders.


Though some of the pieces got veeeery small in the process.


Whew! that was about four days of improv sewing, and while it’s very liberating, it’s also very thinky. See? I’ve used a lot of brain cells doing it. My vocabulary is shot. I used a lot of the things that I learned in Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s class and book.

But check out the finished borders. Three inches finished.


Quilt Camp is just one week away! I can’t wait to see what my students come up with. These techniques are just so much fun. Right now it’s 31″ square.  I’m going to stop here for now.

Would you keep it as a mini, make it a baby quilt, or go bigger? 

Midsummer Moments

I’m so happy to have planned the summer the way I did, with camp for the kids in June and August and a month of unstructured summer time in between. (Even though it seems like all of our friends have done exactly the opposite.) It has given us a chance to have moments like this:


And it allows me to slow down and take in inspiration like this:


We have one more week left to hang at the town pool, get sticky with popsicles in the back yard, and play Go Fish until after regular bed times. Then the kids will go back to camp for a bit, I’ll get ready for classes, and work on some quilt designs that have been body surfing inside my brain. (They bob around in the back before catching that perfect wave of inspiration and flooding to shore.)

I started working again on the Quilt Camp sample, which should be done by the end of the week. It’s become a medallion mini-quilt, and I’m totally smitten.


I brought my machine in for a tune-up while we were at the shore, and after a week away, sewing is pure joy.

I hope your summer has had its own beautiful unstructured moments. (If not, there’s still time!)

Upcoming Events

Just a few updates and announcements while I’m spending some family time at the Jersey Shore this week.

NJMQG is honored to be hosting Heather Grant on August 4, and all MQG members can attend for free! Visitors are just $5. All info here.

Quilt Camp is August 9 at Rock Paper Scissors! It’s going to be so fun.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 10.58.13 AMAlso, I’m so honored and excited to be teaching two classes at the Montclair Art Museum this fall in coordination with their quilt exhibit From Heart to Hand: African-American Quilts from the Montgomery Museum of Fine ArtsWe’ll be using the exhibit as inspiration for modern quilt appreciation and education. In one eight-week class, From Hall to Home, I’ll help each student design and make their own quilt inspired by the exhibit. In a two-day workshop, Modern Quilting 101, students will make a complete 20-inch mini quilt and talk about the entire quilt process. Both are through a partnership with Rock Paper Scissors. Registration begins August 4 for museum members and August 11 to the public. The entire fall course catalog, including dates and pricing, is available here

See you next week!