Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Three more quilts from Beyond Neutral

Let's continue on our tour of the quilts from my book, Beyond Neutral: Quilts Inspired by Nature's Elements. So far I've shown 6 of the book's 16 quilts, and today I'll reveal three more.

(ICYMI, you can catch up on previous posts here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

The quilt pictured above is Glimmerglass. Eagle-eyed readers may recognize this quilt as Carousel, a quilt I designed in 2011 for Fat Quarterly. Carousel really worked well as a juvenile quilt, but when it was time to start pulling the book together I wanted to give it a new life. I brushed off the pattern and remade the quilt using Tula Pink's The Birds and the Bees line. As I suspected, the fresh fabric choices breathed new life into the quilt and allowed it to feel right at home alongside the others in the book.

This is XXX. XXX is actually another pattern reissue. It was originally published as Sanctuary in the second issue of Fat Quarterly. Again, I felt the pattern deserved an update and the quilt a refresh. Now XXX sits comfortably in the Grass chapter of Beyond Neutral. I don't think I could love this fabric combination more.

And introducing perhaps my favorite quilt in the book, Pinnacles. It was designed to feature a large amount of negative space and to showcase a select few favorite prints. I chose a mix of Alison Glass' fabric paired with some whimsical Japanese prints, all against a stone grey. I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

As always, I am not above asking for some help. Amazon reviews really do help with book sales so, if you're enjoying the book and are so inclined, please consider leaving a review. I truly appreciate it. And if you've made anything from Beyond Neutral, please send me photos of your quilt tops. I'd love to feature them in future posts!

Link to purchase at Amazon.
Link to purchase at the Fat Quarter Shop.
Link to purchase at Barnes & Noble.

Monday, July 21, 2014

#NGAQB Mr. May: Paul Hallinger

May was my #SDQAL partner-in-crime's month in the No Girls Allowed Quilting Bee. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Paul (blog: Evildemondevildog Quilts) since the bee started several months ago, and I am awed by his talent and creativity.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Me But Were Afraid to Ask (and probably shouldn't have) 
Paul Hallinger, born in New Jersey.  I am the product of a very nuclear family - dad, mom, me, and my sister.  I am the older brother.  Just a rather mundane childhood of growing up watching Japanese cartoons and Dr. Who.  Oh, and Monty Python.  And I was one of those 'studious' types who would much rather take home a 100 book reading list for the summer.  And if my aunt would lend me her books on UFOs, psychic phenomenon, and otherworldly things, I would fit them in alongside The Great Gatsby. 
I took up some levels of sewing and crochet in my teens, mostly because I lived next to my grandmother and aunt, both of whom spent time doing these things.  I took a sewing class at a local fabric store (yes, they existed back in the Stone Age) and made a really cool for the times patchwork denim vest.  Someone in my family still has it! 
I graduated from high school and went off to college.  Well that was an interesting thing to do.  I lived in a co-ed dorm, found more fun than I could possibly ever want to experience, and decided that if majoring in forestry meant I had to learn latin, well, that was not going to happen.  So after a fun filled year at a small liberal arts college in northern New Jersey, I dropped out. 
And then I just explored new and fun experiences.  I worked at various jobs, hung out at clubs with friends, got into CBGBs, became enamored with punk, double pierced my ears, got a tatoo, and colored my hair a lovely shade of blue after spending months looking like Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner.  I would not trade those life experiences for anything.  And Doc Martens ruled. 
I eventually went back to college (I think I was 26 or so), working full time and going to school full time.  I majored in sociology with a minor in psychology and I am that person in the room who doesn't say much but is intrigued by everything going on around him.  And then off to grad school in the wonderful land of California.  I spent two years getting my masters, buggered off the phD (eternal studentdom was not for me) and took a job with the Federal government in 1991.  Been there as a day job ever since.  I have lived in Jersey, California, Missouri and am now back in Pennsylvania. 
What, too impersonal?  Not a big sharer, but here you go.  
I have been with my one true love for 26ish years now - our first date involved a trip to the dump.  A true romantic that one.  We both remember the movie we went to see and the fact that I didn't go home.  And never left much after that either! 
I took up quilting in 1992 or so - I had gone to Europe on a wonderful two week adventure and upon returning to the states blew out a couple of lumbar discs when I grabbed a suitcase out of  the trunk of a car.  Cross country flight and pain, not a good mix.  So I was out of work for a few months and was going absolutely bonkers counting the ceiling tiles when a friend showed me how to cross stitch and then how to do quilt stitching by hand.  I then asked her to show me how to make a quilt.  I was using a lovely White sewing machine that I had bought at a 'school over-ordered' sale.  I took it in for service and was amazed at the Bernina sewing machines, so I bought one!  and then another.  And then another.  I have three.  Two embroider (another favorite of mine).  And then I bought a Juki (I like it for the more industrial needs!) 
My quilting is like my musical taste - punk funk other junk, classical jazz industrial pretty much anything I listen to and like.  So I quilt things I like - I don't confine myself to any particular style.  I do tend to be a little 'matchy' with my fabric choices and tend to stick to one or two choices in a quilt - I personally feel that the fabric designer did what they did and I should let their expression stand relatively sound.  When I look at some stuff produced by other quilters I just start hearing "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong...".  My own personal aesthetic.  I need some level of cohesion. 

Paul's block request was wide open: he asked us to make any 8" block at all that represented us as quilters. A signature block, if you will. He is sure to have a wonderfully eclectic sampler quilt at the end of the bee!

I decided to make Fancy Fox face blocks from Elizabeth Hartman's fantastic pattern. For two of them I used part of my coveted Liberty of London stash, and for the others I used a new Anna Maria Horner print and a Joel Dewberry woodgrain in a lovely shade of deep purple.

Hope you like them, Paul!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Soccer kids

You can't really get a glimpse into my world without understanding just how much time we spend on sports fields. My children are all developing into exceptional athletes, and while they dabble in basketball, flag football, and volleyball, the sport of choice for all three is soccer.

This summer, we're thrilled that all three of the kids have been chosen for their respective traveling soccer teams. This means that they'll be on teams that compete outside of our local YMCA branch, and they'll begin playing some of the more competitive teams throughout the region. It also means that they'll be playing on the team for a full calendar year, and the amount of time I'll be sitting on the sidelines has increased dramatically.

I don't mind in the least, though. Watching my children play sports is by far the thing I love to do most in this world.

Here are a few recent pictures to show just how quickly they are growing up!

And now for a little throwback fun. Here are the girls 5 years ago, playing their first season of soccer in 2009 (5 years old.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Space Dust Quilt-Along

Introducing the Space Dust Quilt-Along!

It's funny how these things come about sometimes.

I was enjoying an otherwise innocent conversation over on Instagram (about quilts and fabric and such, of course) with Kela (from Quilter's Square), Paul (from Evildemondevildog Quilts) and some others.

We were gushing about Katarina Roccella's new line for Art Gallery Fabrics, Indelible.

I was also sharing that Tula Pink's Space Dust quilt was on my quilter's bucket list, and that I was contemplating starting it soon.

It occurred to me that Space Dust made with Indelible would be pretty damn epic.

Others agreed. A quilt-along was mentioned. And I was volunteered (volun-told?) to host it. I agreed, as I tend to do.

I recruited Paul to be my co-host, Kela offered to pull together quilt kits (at a discounted price!), I asked Tula to offer a pattern discount to participants (she agreed!), and the Space Dust Quilt-Along (#SDQAL) was born. I am hoping you'll join us on this journey!

The Pattern

The Space Dust pattern by Tula Pink is a paper-pieced (foundation pieced) pattern. (Not English paper piecing -- aka hand work -- as some of you have already asked.) If you're unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or inexperienced with paper piecing and want to practice / get better, this is a GREAT pattern for that. It's fairly straightforward and Tula's instructions, as always, are amazing.

The PDF pattern is listed at $24.95 but Tula is offering 15% off for SDQAL participants. Just enter SDQAL as the discount code. (Shhh, don't tell anyone, but this code is good on ALL of Tula's patterns. So if you've been eyeing some other favorites, NOW is the time to buy.)

As a reference, here are the fabric requirements for the pattern:

  • Background fabric: 5 yards
  • Color fabrics: 22 quarter-yard cuts of your choice
  • Backing: 8 yards
  • Binding: 3/4 yard
  • The quilt finishes at 88" x 96".

Link to purchase the Space Dust quilt pattern.

The Fabric

The quilting community is all abuzz with talk about Katarina Roccella's debut line with Art Gallery Fabrics, Indelible. Personally, I think it's much deserved. The line was a standout to me at Quilt Market in Pittsburgh and I've been (not so) patiently waiting to get my hands on some. And, given the prints and colors of the line, I think it will be an amazing complement to the Space Dust pattern.

The pattern calls for 21 quarter-yard cuts of prints, so you can of course use any fabric you want for the quilt-along. It is not a requirement that you make your quilt from Indelible!

If, however, you would like to use the line, Quilter's Square in Lexington, KY is making quilt kits and offering them at a discounted price. Kits are normally priced at $125.75, but are being offered for $100.00 for SDQAL participants.

Link to purchase quilt kits from Quilter's Square.

The Schedule

We'll be starting the quilt-along in a few weeks to give everyone enough time to collect their supplies, prepare their materials, etc. Paul and I will be alternating posts on our blogs (but I'll always link to his posts so that you won't miss anything.) The initial schedule is posted below. You will see that we will be posting on Fridays -- making it easier on you weekend warriors! -- and tackling the pattern row by row.

  • Friday, 8/1 - Gathering materials, printing pattern, cutting pattern pieces, brush up on paper piecing, general prep
  • Friday, 8/8 - Row 1
  • Friday, 8/15 - Row 2
  • Friday, 8/22 - Row 3
  • Friday, 8/29 - Row 4
  • Friday, 9/5 - Row 5
  • Friday, 9/12 - Row 6
  • Friday, 9/19 - Row 7
  • Friday, 9/24 (MY 40TH BIRTHDAY!) - Row 8 & finishing up

A note about quilt-alongs: the posts will always remain live on our blogs. If you need to get started a few weeks (or months or years!) late, no worries. You can always come back and follow the posts. Likewise, if you're a Speedy Sally and want to jump ahead, you are always free to do so. The quilt-along is simply a place for encouragement and fun picture-sharing to keep everyone motivated throughout.

Of course, it wouldn't be a party without giveaways! Be on the lookout for fun giveaways to be offered throughout the quilt-along for anyone participating.

If you're participating and you're active on social media, please be sure to share all of your progress on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #SDQAL. Feel free to start now with photos of your fabric ideas, your prep work, paper piecing tips, questions and requests for help, etc.

So, who's in?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Remember this rescue quilt?

About 2 1/2 years ago, I wrote a blog post and called it "Can this quilt be saved?" In it, I recounted the story of a college friend who entrusted her husband's well-loved (but badly damaged) childhood quilt to me to see if I could somehow restore it so that it could continue to be enjoyed and appreciated by their own children.

I must admit, I was a bit surprised by the responses that I received to that post. While I expected the posts that both admired my efforts and provided invaluable tips and advice on the cleaning and restoration process, I was a bit surprised by the number of people advising me not to try to alter the quilt too much and to avoid using modern fabrics in an effort to maintain the authenticity of the quilt. This being the first such project I had undertaken, I truly appreciated all of the feedback and it gave me a bit of pause as I decided how I wanted to proceed.

Ultimately, I stayed the course and finished the project according to my original plan. I remembered that my friend entrusted the quilt to me, with the implicit understanding that she trusted my judgment and my aesthetic in bringing it back to life. My original plan to infuse life into the vintage panel by pairing it with more modern (though vintage-inspired) prints was very much in keeping with my personal design style. If I loved it, then I could be fairly confident that their family would too.

Above, you can see a picture of the quilt after I was finished with my updates. I kept to a very simple courthouse steps / log cabin design in an effort to keep the focus on the sentimental middle panel. I absolutely love what the oliver + s prints brought to the project: a bit of whimsy with colors that really drew from the main panel.

The quilt finished at a nice toddler / cuddle size. I hope it's very happy in its new home, and that its owners are too!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Teaching in Lexington, Kentucky

While at Camp Stitchalot I had the pleasure of meeting Laura, Lin, and the gang from Q First in Quilting in Lexington, Kentucky. Good thing, because I was traveling to teach a class at their shop the following weekend!

I headed to Lexington on Friday, July 13th, and was welcomed by Laura and Lin and some of their customers with a reception in their shop. (If you are in, near, or traveling through Lexington, I cannot recommend Q First in Quilting enough. It's a big, beautiful, airy shop with a killer selection of modern fabrics.) I was able to introduce myself, meet some new people, sign some books, and do a brief trunk show of all the quilts from Beyond Neutral. I also helped some students select and purchase fabrics for the next day's class -- my favorite thing to do!

On Saturday, I taught an all-day class, leading people through the pattern for the Beyond Neutral cover quilt, Pacific Crest (shown above.) I had a blast taking the students through my design process for the pattern and watching their unique and beautiful quilts come to life. (And I had a major fanboy moment when I learned that Erin from House on Hill Road was one of my students in the class.)

Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend:

And Linda Peevy was the first to send me a photo of her completed quilt top. Linda used batiks to make her Pacific Crest quilt. Isn't it gorgeous? Thanks, Linda!

Shop owners and guild leaders: I am available for trunk shows, speaking engagements, and all-day quilt classes. If you are interested in learning more, please let me know.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Even more photos from Beyond Neutral

Quiet week here, so I thought I'd take another opportunity to share some more images from my book, Beyond Neutral: Quilts Inspired by Nature's Elements.

This first one is called Cape Lookout, and it was inspired by the view of sunrises and sunsets over the water. As you can tell by the photo, it's an easy quilt to piece together and a great showcase for your favorite collection of gradient prints.

With Canyonlands, I took a free block pattern that I had designed for Generation Q magazine's blog a few years back (Modern Starlings, found here.) As soon as I designed the block I envisioned an entire quilt of starlings, and was finally able to realize it in my book.

Today's third quilt is called Half Moon Bay, and in it I used my long-hoarded (and much-loved) collection of Cake Rock Beach fabric. I love the graphic nature of this quilt and think that, with different colors and prints, the pattern can be taken in so many different directions.

I hope you're all enjoying the book. If you've been able to browse through a copy and are so inclined, I always appreciate Amazon reviews of the book. And if you've made anything from Beyond Neutral, please send me photos of your quilt tops. I'd love to feature them in future posts!

Link to purchase at Amazon.
Link to purchase at the Fat Quarter Shop.
Link to purchase at Barnes & Noble.