Adventures in Teaching, in three parts

On Monday we had a great Quarter Circle class. We had a full group, but I only managed to get pictures of three of the beautiful blocks:


With a little inspiration and some graph paper, anyone can be a quilt designer. That was my hypothesis when I developed the curriculum for my two-Saturday class Modern Quilting 101. We had our first day of classes on the 25th and it was a lot of fun to see my students get inspiration from the mid-century African American quilt exhibit From Heart to Hand at the Montclair Art Museum.

Luckily, with a little guidance, my hypothesis was proven right.

After spending an hour in the gallery, we headed down Bloomfield Avenue to the workroom at Rock Paper Scissors to make those designs a reality. Here is Chrys’s design:


And her (nearly) finished mini quilt top:


Thalia-Marie sewed her first ever seams!


Selma was so inspired by a denim quilt in the exhibit that she ran home during the lunch break to grab some old jeans. Check out what she made! (Do you see the bear in the middle?)


Daphna experimented with improvisation:


Pat made foliage-inspired log cabins:


And Jen made some pretty patchwork:


Next week we quilt and bind.


And I got some great news yesterday– I’ll be teaching at Mid Atlantic Mod, the MQG retreat hosted by the Central Jersey and Philadelphia MQGs and sponsored by DC, Baltimore, and my very own North Jersey MQG. It’s a new quilt design and a new class, designed to practice and perfect your quarter-inch seam allowance. Registration for the April retreat in Lancaster, PA, starts November 1.

Here is the first block. I’ll keep you updated on the quilt’s progress. I’m so excited.


The Trill quilt

In the summer I was inspired to design a quilt using all curves, and I’m so proud and excited that it came to exist in the real world. IMG_7418

I’m calling it Trill, after the wobbly notes of a bird’s call. I thought it suited both the design and the fabric, Wildwood by Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud 9. I used the collection with Cirrus Solids in Ocean, my favorite navy blue of the moment. I think one of my favorite things about this quilt is the secondary squiggle between the prints.IMG_7410

The design is actually made of just one block with different rotation and fabric placement. I’m writing a pattern for it this month and I’ll definitely keep you updated throughout the process. I can’t wait to see how someone else would interpret it– between the circles and pointed shapes and the background there are a lot of possibilities for change and movement.

IMG_7400There were two prints in the collection– one a vibrant coral, the other bright teal– that didn’t quite fall into the categories of blue or white-based print. So I made the coral the focal point and put Ocean in the center, framing it with teal in the binding.


Speaking of binding, I tried something new that I really love as an innovative way of labeling a quilt– embroidering the binding with the alphabet stitches on my Janome 6600. I learned it from my Instagram friend Shannon, aka @nerdcamp. (She makes the coolest clothes and quilts, by the way.)


The final size is 57″ x 69,” perfect for a couch throw. I love the drape that the quilting gives it, and it crinkled nicely after a wash. I’ll get to snuggle it after a little trip to Quilt Market, where it’s going to hang out with Elizabeth Olwen herself along with the rest of the fabulous Cloud 9 team.


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit.


The Cirrus Solids quilt

When I heard that my friends at Cloud 9 Fabrics were launching their own line of solids, I was so psyched to see what they’d be like. But when they asked me to turn one of Michelle’s quilt designs into reality (and get my hands on some of the Cirrus Solids a little early), it was just a dream come true. IMG_7238

Meet the Cirrus Solids quilt, my biggest quilt to date. At 72″ by 90″, it’s twin-sized, and whoo-ee was that a workout to manage on my home machine. But what a great result. It’s heavy and warm and so, so, so soft. The fabric itself is a vibrant yarn dye, in a palette that showcases brights, muted tones and a range of neutrals in all their gorgeous depth.


I used the Hex n More ruler for the half-hexies in the 8-inch size. (I love how the ruler snips the corners for precise piecing.) In quilting the quilt, I opted to choose a focal point and have angles point to that one spot. I chose the  flower in “Sprout” with the “Rain” center.IMG_7242

Fun and cozy and bright and soft.IMG_7244

A new design and a finished top

I spent a huge part of this week at the sewing machine, anxiously piecing curves. Last week I was in the zone, singing away, admiring the fabric, but this week was about matching seams and praying to the gods of pattern design. Every time I design a new quilt a little voice in my head says, it may not look the way you think it will. I’ll test and re-calculate, but the voice doesn’t shut up until the top is done.

And this one came out pretty darn great, if I can say so myself.


The design had come to me when I was at the Jersey Shore with family this summer, enjoying the freedom and inspiration of a break from routine. I was afraid I would forget it by the time we came back, so after dinner and before Cards Against Humanity, as the cousins played Wii, I furiously scribbled it out with crayons.

The fabric is Wildwood by Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud 9, and the navy is Cirrus Solids in Ocean. I’m furiously quilting to finish it up next week and will be sure to take all the glamor shots.

In the zone

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is purely magical. Today I was working on a design for Cloud 9’s market booth, and I was in the zone.


Part of it was seeing a design that I’ve had in my pocket since July come to life and look just like I’d hope. And part of it was the gorgeous materials, Elizabeth Olwen’s Wildwood line along with Cirrus Solids in Ocean, all organic quilting cotton. It’s tricky and fun and curvy.


Another part was the soundtrack, a new artist called Hozier. This music hit me just right, with some songs sweet and some raw and sorrowful. Some are morbid and some are sexy. Gah. It was just what I needed to back my creative energy, and it just felt so good. I know that when it hits, if you have the time to ride it, you enjoy the zone as much as you can. I feel so lucky to have had this day in the zone.

Here, “Like Real People Do”

And “From Eden”

But there are others that are more upbeat and more electric. Excellent sewing music.