I received some happy mail today! The Quilting Arts Holiday magazine is finally out. I designed easy bacon and egg felt ornaments to make for the holidays. Interweave does an amazing job styling and photographing so it is always a joy to see things I have made come to life in the magazine. It is on new stands through the end of November so pick one up!
City Gym shorts success! I’ve been seeing versions of these shorts popping up everywhere on blogs. Until now, I have been unsuccessful at making shorts, either because I somehow get brave and feel like I can wing something I have no actual knowledge about (I can’t) or because I start with a pattern but somehow veer off course partway through (also a fail). These were easy and fairly quick to go together. I printed out the downloadable pattern and cut and taped it together.
I like to keep the actual pattern intact and trace my size onto interfacing to use as my pattern. This way if I need a different size, I can just trace another size instead of more printing and cutting. Cutting and sewing went quickly, the only thing that took any time was making the bias tape, next time I will run out and buy a bias tape maker because hand doing it makes for crispy fingers!
The fabric is a Japanese print I bought awhile back from Bunny’s Designs and some Carolyn Friedlander crosshatch. I hope to make another pair soon as they make the perfect comfy jammie shorts!
Back in the saddle again
I had an amazing Grand Canyon trip with my family. Family trips are always a whirlwind of fun, I typically learn a ton, and it is always challenging. Is that not what your family vacays are? Lily, you got some splaining to do (in my best Ricky Ricardo accent). My sister is an incredible planner. Every second is on the itinerary, and she does an insurmountable amount of research in order for us to see and do all we can on a trip. I love that, chances are, we aren’t going to go back to the same place countless times so let’s see what we can while we are there! She also believes in my abilities more than I do and knows that I am capable of things that I don’t know I am capable of. Mostly, I am talking about the long and strenuous hikes-which I always think I’m not going to survive through but always do and am grateful for! And most importantly, she usually rewards me with ice cream or pie. I’m a simple girl sometimes! We saw, of course, the Grand Canyon, a few other national parks and monuments along with a park run by the Navajo Nation, ate a ton of food - mostly meat!, got stuck in a torrential hail storm, sought shelter on a bus so packed it could not move, bought some souvenirs, shared some laughs and a ton of bus rides, saw some animals, exhausted some muscles, visited 2 quilt shops, and smiled from ear to ear most of the time!
Since I have been back, my hubby threw me a small birthday Pigtacular - which was a fun brunch with friends and tons of roasted swine. I hadn’t had a birthday party since I turned 21 so it was kind of a big deal for me. Also, I forgot how much work it was to host something at the house. Back when I was young and fun, it was just a booze run, a pizza, and an MP3 list. Now it is house cleaning, rearranging furniture, prepping food, and lots of clean up afterwards. Totally worth it though! I got a few well thought out gifts from great friends but most importantly, we hosted people I love at home - and they got to meet the chickaroos and check out the incredible coop the mister built.
Also Carolyn Friedlander visited Austin to do a lecture and trunk show for my Modern Quilt Guild. It was amazing to see all of her handwork up close. She also taught a couple of workshops, one of which I actually got to attend. I was super excited to get an opportunity to sew with my great friends and also to learn from a fantastic maker and sewist. I did get my social tote finished and learned about making divided pockets and Annie’s Soft and Stable. As I have said, I love learning things!
I’m working on getting my fabric design mojo back! There is a ton of underground work that comes after a collection comes out that I was not expecting and I feel like I am finally ready to jump in again. Later this month, there is a magazine I have a pattern in so I can finally post about that. See you again soon!
Aeroplane Bag ready to travel
This Friday I am off to a mini vacation with Mamasan and my sister for my birthday. We will be going to the Grand Canyon and I am SO excited! I needed the perfect bag to take onto the plane and hold everything I needed to keep me distracted for the travel time. Books, sewing projects, snacks (I don’t want to be hangry in the airport!), maybe a sweater or a scarf, and my actual purse that holds my money, my make up, and my meds (nothing serious, just motion sickness and ibuprofen)! Normally, I only make time consuming multi step things for other people but it is my birthday damn it and I wanted something fabulous for travel! I decided on another Sew Sweetness-Sara Lawson-Aeroplane Bag (this is the LONG size). Enough time had passed since my last one to blur my memory of the extensive construction. I am so happy with how it turned out (I’d be even happier if Tumblr rotated my pictures)!
I’m sure I’ve said before that my favorite part of making anything is putting together different fabrics. I finally got to utilize all of the preppy prints I have been collecting for years! Although my quilts are normally very colorful, I am not that adventurous. After all, someone else has to live with my makings. For myself, I stick to a very limited Ralph Lauren/Tommy Hilfiger color scheme. I did a patchwork exterior to bring all of my treasured fabrics to the forefront. Saturated dark denim became the base and the straps for durability and to hide any dirtiness that may happen. Sara Lawson’s bag patterns are very detailed and include tons of interfacings and stabilizers to make her creations stand up straight at attention! I made this in three days with dedicated blocks of sewing time. I estimate that if it was done in one day, it might be a sun up to sun down project but the patchwork panels took up a good amount of that time (please notice my perfect seams on that!). I will admit that I was less than perfect at the end of the process and the bottom panel seams are about 1/4” off but hey, it was past my bedtime and I needed to git’er done.
Stop and say hello to me of you see me in the airport! I’ll be the one with the sweet bag!
Well hello again. Sorry for the radio silence. I’m not sure where the time went! So I’ll update you on how things have been going and if you stick around until the end of this post, you will be rewarded with my Ninjoctopus pattern a gratis.
I have some new family members, if you follow me on Instagram (lkglioness) you have probably seen enough of them already! Five new little chicklets have joined my flock. They are now 10 weeks old but here are they are at 1 1/2 and at 7 1/2 weeks.
They grow so quickly! Each has a distinctive personality and are full of mischief and trouble. They keep me on my feet for sure.
I wish I could say that I have been sewing up a storm during my absence but I didn’t have time nor gumption for much of that. I did make some tiny ninja booties and also an epic baby quilt for my great friends who will be parents soon. I was not successful at photographing either one before they were off to their new home. It has been a whirlwind.
My career at Townsley Designs has been non stop - in a good way. They say time flies when you are having fun so I must be! We have produced some massive, beautiful, and challenging events lately that I have been proud to be a part of. Check out the Townsley Designs Facebook page to see what my day job entails! I also have a new assistant who is already making my workload easier.
The end of this month is my birthday! I will be turning 34 soon. Some people get strange about getting older but I don’t mind it one bit. I am pretty satisfied with the person I have become. I love the people I surround myself with. I couldn’t have traveled another path and felt as comfortable and at home as I do. This birthday will be celebrated with my sister and Mamasan. We are taking a trip to the Grand Canyon together! It is a much needed vacation and our girl trips are always fun filled and memorable!
I finally wrote a pattern for Ninjoctopus too (< click on the name for download)! I made him for my Quilt Market booth last fall. I believe it was crunch time before the cathartic trip to Houston for my fabric line debut. I know I had a list of things to make still and didn’t want to focus on anything. I dreamed up this creature and stitched him up on a whim. It really doesn’t showcase much of my fabric but I just needed a bit of whimsy to punctuate my otherwise methodical productivity. It ended up to be almost like a mascot for my market experience. I truly felt like I had eight arms and I was throwing stars and taking care of business!
I hope y’all make a Ninjoctopus for yourself! I’d love to see it if you do!
Until next time!
Have you seen the Spring 2014 Modern Patchwork Magazine?
So I got this in the mail today…
I wrote two patterns for this issue and Kim Place wrote one as well. It was my first time writing patterns and also my first time seeing my name in a magazine.
I didn’t expect to see the fabric reviews section - I am all up in this magazine!
You can find these at some local quilt stores, most large bookstores, and of course on the Interweave website - I have a button with a coupon code on the right side of my blog if you are looking to spend more than $20 there!
I can’t wait to devour this whole magazine because it has tons of great content and great projects! I might be biased but I think Kim’s apron is the most eye catching thing in there…just sayin’…Pick one up today!
I have a disclaimer: I don’t sew from patterns usually. I didn’t learn the right way to sew because I taught myself so I don’t always get the terminology and am a bit intimidated by them. When I was making things for my Windham booth at Quilt market last fall, quite a few people asked me for patterns. I agreed to write some although the thought made me nauseous - as I have learned, nauseous is the path to follow. Somehow, slowly I got through them and below are the Windham links. I also have some bad ass friends who wrote some too!
A simple and graphic log cabin quilt - Huevos Rancheros
My Sistine Chapel - Flying Pig
I hope you enjoy these links-and I’d love to see a photo if you make something from one of these patterns - or with any of my fabric!
Getting Better By The Minute Quilt - DONE!
Quilted and bound, she is ready to venture off to her forever home. I was very happy with how this came out. Not only am I incredibly happy with the piecing, the quilting (done by Jessica Darling of course) was above and beyond my expectations. I can’t wait to wash and dry it to see all of the detail come out in rich texture.
'Tis the season for Texas to be carpeted with lush bluebonnets sprinkled with Indian paintbrushes so the hubby tolerated a trip to the field for photos - he is tall enough to be able to showcase the quilt way more effectively than my five foot frame.
Here is a lumpy photo of the back, as it was a windy day and the other photo had the quilt plastered up to him - not the best way to see the finished quilt.
I’m not sure if I have previously mentioned, this is a quilt for a friend who is recovering from an accident. I have had people ask me to make quilts for them (non quilters) and I always balk at that intrusion - unless you are family, that is different. People in my life are awarded quilts - with friendship, with love - they have meaning and are thought of during the entire process. For non quilters - they are EXPENSIVE. Places like Urban Outfitters and Bed, Bath, and Beyond skew people’s idea if what realistic prices are. I did the metrics on this one.
9 yards of quilt store quality cottons @ $10.50/yard = $94.50, batting $35.00, long arm quilting $87.15, twenty hours of my labor @ $15.00/hour = $300.00. So would regular people expect to pay $516.65 for a quilt? Probably not. Do I think my time is worth more than $15/hours? Yup. Want me to make you a quilt stranger? I’d probably charge you $25 and hour because it is turning my hobby into a job and that would then be a $716.65 quilt - and who knows what the timeline would be to get that done. So if you receive a quilt - please see the love that has gone into it and time put into each stitch. And send me a picture of you using it - that is all I need.
My Fabric Design Story
I spoke a few months ago at the Austin Modern Quilt Guild meeting and am still getting great interest and feedback from my talk from members who attended. I think that my story is easy to relate to since I have no formal training or even a long history with quilting. Below is what I was planning on talking about but probably wandered off topic a little in real life. I find public speaking terrifying and ramble like a crazy lady!
My full time job is at a fabulous event decor company designing and producing unique events. At Townsley Designs, I work under the amazing force of Shonda Townsley, Queen of all things over the top and ridiculous. She has been a powerful inspiration in the five years I have known her. Her key phrases, “why wouldn’t you do that” as in, why not do it over the top, and “if you are going to do it, do it” have sculpted my way of thinking on a grand scale. I went from a “can I?” girl to a “why can’t I” lady and although basically the same question is posed, it is in an entirely different viewpoint.
I had a coworker and now great friend getting married (Candice Lawler - bad ass photo genius). She was seeking an Anthropologie style wedding with a casual and eclectic feel. I told her I would make a quilt to contribute to her decor. Although I had never made a quilt, I could sew straight lines and was competent in all thing crafty so far… When I walked into fabric stores, I learned fabric had grown up from what I had known, it had evolved from the Wal-Mart tea stained calicos that I remember as a child, there were now colorful and graphic options! Somehow, I got sucked up in the gravitational pull of contemporary fabric and sewed up a storm. I ended up making three canine chic bow ties, a doggie ring bearer vest, a half of a dozen pillows, a few table runners, cute bunting, and a quilt. I was hooked.
I had a friend who was having a baby, I made another quilt. I joined the Austin Modern Quilt Guild where I met and cultivated great friends with the same obsession I had recently developed (AKA enablers).
In the beginning of this evolution, I went to visit my sister in San Francisco. She took me to Maker Faire and I discovered an eye catching booth for Spoonflower. It was an innovative digital printing company that could print as little as a fat quarter on fabric! How exciting! A fat quarter is not that much of a commitment so if it turned out terrible, no harm, no foul. My first print I designed was called “nothin says love”; it is a heart shaped steak print. I started designing a few more just for fun. I challenged myself to see if I could build a small collection just because I love a project.
On Spoonflower, you have the option of making your designs public and people can purchase them. In return, they pay you a tiny commission. People started purchasing my designs. If you have ever bought someone else’s designs there, you know that it is pretty expensive in comparison to quilt shop quality cottons. Seeing those sale notifications planted a seed in my mind. If people were buying my designs at this elevated price, perhaps I could have a mass appeal.
I live in Austin, Texas and conveniently that was the first ever Quiltcon - an epic and life changing convention for Modern Quilting - I think they should change their tag line to that! I took the week off of work and immersed myself in everything I could. I took a class, I spent days on the trade show floor, I pored over the quilts on display, I talked to strangers. I knew I wanted to be a part of this community full of fresh ideas and warm people. This is my friend Kim Place and Amanda Harwood and we snagged passerby Jay McCarroll - fabric designer and season 1 Project Runway winner!
Making the decision to pursue a licensing deal was terrifying. I was trying to get someone to talk me out of it and everyone I called who was close to me wouldn’t comply. I literally cried every time I thought about it, every time I spoke about it, and I’m not really a crying kind of girl. Finally when I had exhausted my phone list of close friends and family I resigned to, “Oh hell. I’m doing it. Go big or go home”.
I am a realistic person. For every question or concern that arose I had to have a good answer. I had dialogs with myself going through my head at all times to figure that out.
Concern: This is going to be an expensive endeavor.
Reply: If you don’t want to make an investment in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? I had to put together a presentation worthy of representing who I am and buy airline tickets to another city plus hotel and food for a week. It would also cost me vacation days from my full time job. I could make a small vacation of it and that would help me offset that cost in my head. My husband really would enjoy going to Portland. Done.
Concern: I’m not that great of an artist, how can I stand out?
Reply: Find out what you are good at and make that stand out. I am a good graphic artist that understands balance and unity. I can also put together a great sales packet. I have incredible drive and follow through and can self manage well. I decided to make a presentation that had the feel of something that was already printed and ready to market to quilt shops. I was going to print everything through Spoonflower and make samples, show swatches and have a small lifestyle shoot to show that I was ready and capable of playing in this arena. I was going to present two small lines of fabric to illustrate my versatility and breadth. I will stand out with great ideas and follow through.
Concern: Putting yourself out there can really challenge your confidence and requires great emotional stamina.
Reply: I am already a confident person because I am content with who I have become. I believe that I have the tools and talent necessary to be an asset to anyone. I’m not saying there were times without self doubt but you just have to get through it. I didn’t have any success reaching out to set appointments before market. I was up late night sewing and paying credit cards bills and wondered what the hell I was doing all of this for. The answer was always that I was doing this for me. If I couldn’t work with more zeal and verve for myself than I do at my day job, than I had no place to expect great things for me. I know that may sound rough but good things don’t just come to those who wait for it, they come to people who take it for themselves and make it happen. Almost everything I learned, I got the hard way. It wasn’t part of any curriculum or syllabus. When I wanted to learn something, I bought books (I now have a whole library of books on Excel, Illustrator, fabric design, screen printing, organic vegetable gardening…) , I took a free internship at an advertising firm without needing it for any kind of college credit, I researched things on the internet. I practiced, I failed, I got up and tried again.
Concern: What happens if I fail?
Reply: Dust yourself off and try again. It isn’t realistic to expect zero bumps in the road the first time you try something. If you want it now, you’ll want it tomorrow, and next year, and five years from now. Keep at it. Get constructive feedback for what you need to improve for next time and get better with every approach.
With all of that thought out, I had more conviction every day. I had to lay the foundation for success. I became more active on Instagram, I started a blog, I reached out and made more connections in the quilting world. I formulated a list of things to do along with a timeline to get it done.
The most important thing I did was host a think tank. It is incredibly arrogant to think you have the best ideas on your own. At work we have a process that is incredibly cooperative. The best ideas are compilations or mutations of a myriad of ideas. I wanted the best ideas so I invited creative people I knew and loved: a Quilt shop owner, an apparel sewist, an entertainment and fashion photographer, THE event designer (that’s Queen boss lady), and social media guru. Notice these are not necessarily industry related? That helps to keep the thinking outside of the box! We pulled out what designs I had already, switched it all around, wrote a list of what was missing. I visualized a photo for each collection, listed out what components were needed to create that picture, and developed a comprehensive work list.
I sewed a lot more, ate a bit more, slept a lot less, and smiled from ear to ear because I was doing all of this to achieve a personal goal.
As you know, I did have success at quilt market with the great people of Windham Fabrics.
I’m not done yet though. I’ve since written some patterns, I continue to make great connections, I try my best to maintain this blog, I’m aiming to stay relevant in this quilting community. I have some ideas simmering for the next collection!
Mostly though, I’ve made amazing connections with creative people and I am fiercely appreciative of that.
Thanks for making it through this beast of a post!
The Intuitive Quilter
In my professional life as an event designer and producer, when things don’t go as planned I find myself repeating the same lines to my clients (and to my crew, and to anyone else who looks at me with that quizzical expression).
Everything is going to be fine!
I feel good about it!
I truly believe it too. I don’t always know where I’m going but I do have inherent belief that I will get there. When I began sewing, I had no idea what I was doing. My coworker Mary answered my questions here and there. Sometimes we would make paper dolls of home decor things so she could explain the assembly of duvet covers or the proper way to line draperies. She thought I was crazy and incredibly brave to jump in like that with big projects when I obviously had no experience backing me. In my mind, those are the things I felt I needed in my house and what is the worst thing that could happen? Why would I even think for a minute it wouldn’t work out okay?
I think about quilts in a similar way. I almost never know what my finished quilt will look like when I start one. I don’t sew quilts from patterns and usually don’t stick to one fabric collection (unless it is mine!). I believe that my mind, my eyes, and my quilt will tell me what to do next. I know that sounds crazy.Some people may describe that as improvisational quilting. I completely disagree with that definition of my process.
Improvisation means doing something without being prepared for it. I have seen workshops focused around this with people pulling scraps out willy-nilly and making a finished project in this manner. Personally that makes my skin crawl just thinking about it! A brilliant red could end up next to a magenta and a hunter green…the horror!
Intuitive means doing what feels to be true without conscious reasoning. I pull fabrics from my stash that I want to use together. I cut and sew a few things, I look at it on my design wall, and then figure out what I think the next logical step would be. The colors, the design, the layout, my experience, guides me. We all know what looks right, and we can tell when something is missing. If it looks right, keep on going! If something is missing, figure out what that is and add it!
I am making a quilt for a friend in the hospital as I write. (I am writing this during this quilt process so forgive me if I change tenses here and there, I am in and out of this post - time lapse style!) I chose some fabrics. I actually purchased a pre-cut jelly roll, which I have never done before! Then I added in some fabrics from my stash that went well with it. Since I was already working with 2 1/2” strips, I cut my stash fabrics at the same width. I decided to cut everything at 20” long because it seemed to work with the pieces I had without a ton of waste.
Next, I piled up all of those strips onto my sewing table and started sewing them together in pairs. I pulled a strip and sewed it to another. If the one I pulled had a lot of white, I paired it with something more saturated. I went through m whole pile like that. I’m working with three key colors with this quilt: green (varying from emerald to teal), yellow (ochre to butter), and grey (almost white to black).
When I cut these chain pieced strips apart, I stacked them in three piles: predominantly green, yellow, or grey. Obviously, some had two colors in it, but the stronger presence dictated the pile it ended up in. I will chain piece these together choosing one from one pile and pairing it with one from a different pile. Another round of that gets me to eight strips pieced together. I ended up with a lonely guy that didn’t have a partner. That is okay for three reasons.
1) I still have no idea what I am doing, he might find a home still.
2) There is always a place on the quilt back he could go!
3) I keep a box of orphan blocks I can use later for a small project or donate to my guild for charity quilts.
Now I lay out my blocks and see where I need to go. These make me think back to “Scrappy Trip Around the World” blocks. For those blocks, your piecing was sewn into a tube (original technique is called bargello for you technical quilters), cut into strips across the piecing, picking a seam, and sewing everything back together with the pieces now stair stepped. I’m sure that is confusing if you haven’t done it. Thinking back, the thing I liked the least from that is picking the seams out, matching, and sewing back together. So if I added a large background color to one side of each block before tubing and cutting, I could theoretically cut the big block of background fabric at different points and eliminate the picking entirely. That would also give the blocks and equalizer look and be a pretty cool effect…let’s try that.
I cut a 14” x 20” to add to each block, sewed it to each end of the pieced strips to make a tube. I then trimmed the ends and cut them into random width strips. Once laid out, I think about whether I like this or not. I think it is just okay. Even thought it has all of the core colors, the saturated ones will be too heavy in spots if I do this block by block. I’d like it better if it was more mixed. I’m going to cut all of my blocks into strips like this and mix them all up instead.
This is just with three blocks mixed up and it is better already! So I cut up the rest of my blocks like this and piece them together. So I lay out all of my strips in stacks and methodically pull one from each pile to sew together. This will give me a nice consistency when you stand back from the quilt. I like this random cluster of pieces. Now I think I need to balance it out and give it some negative space for the eye to rest and to give the pattern more drama. I gravitate towards quilts with an off centered focal point so I add a small piece of solidish fabric to the end and larger hunks of fabric to the rest of the three sides. I love it now!
Also, as I was making this I kept think, it is a shame this is meant as a gift because I’m really starting to love this more than I thought and I haven’t really kept many modern quilts for myself. But I will let you in on a little secret: I have enough of the pieced strips to make two of these quilt tops! The secondary bonus of not knowing what your final product will be, extra completed piecing to use later! It is nice to have restraint when creating because I could have felt the impulse to use up everything I had labored over and made something too busy. It is like knowing when you have had enough to eat without having to clear your plate. Although maybe that isn’t a good simile because I am not as great at making that specific decision!
I know the last photo is not fantastic but I will post finished pictures once I whip up a quilt backing and get it finished.
I hope my crazy way of creating was interesting and I’d love to know your strategies. Perhaps you could try intuitive quilting and let me know how it goes!