Feeling Recharged

For six years now, I have traveled to Waite Park, MN in July to spend a few days with some of the best friends I have ever known; a group of women that felt like forever friends almost immediately after our first meeting. My Grubers Retreat is a non-negotiable event on the calendar. I’ve written about the joys of this retreat in the past; but really, words cannot explain what this week means to me and does for me emotionally. Group8                               L to R: Amanda, Rene, me, Mary, Michelle, Terri, Cindy, Shelly, Stephanie

Amanda produces like crazy every year–many things with her new fabric collection for Connecting Threads this year! She free-motion quilted like crazy, and she and I made micro quilts. Amanda2015CollageRene worked on a scrap vortex quilt most of the weekend. Her 51 Kisses quilt, made for her sister, Michelle, is fabulous. Go check out her MUCH better photos!Rene2015CollageI finished up my Rock Pools quilt top from a class I took in May (it’s Christmas fabric), and worked on my Quick Curve Ruler project from last year’s retreat! My micro quilt is at the bottom left:Doris2015CollageMary made us the adorable egg-cup pincushions (top right photo) with the smallest EPP hexies I’ve ever seen. She worked diligently on a Moda Bake Shop pattern most of the weekend. Mary2015CollageMichelle first joined us for retreat in 2011 (year two). She is Rene’s little sis, and at the time she was just a newbie to quilting. She has come a long way! The girl is obsessed with foundation paper-piecing (and the movie Pitch Perfect, which we watched as a group Saturday evening). The quilt on the top right is the beauty she made for Rene this year:Michelle2015CollageTerri is fun to watch work; she makes the most of her time at retreat. She goes back and forth between projects, starts new ones when inspired by something she sees (see the blocks at bottom right, inspired by one Michelle shared-in my collage above), her creativity is inspiring. She came prepared with her suitcase of fabric (LOVE IT!)… Also, she made us those beautiful Dresden coasters this year:Terri2015CollageCindy accomplished much more than I took photos of. I couldn’t resist snapping the pic of her with the matching Hello Kitty sewing machine! She made us all one-hour baskets with fussy cut license plate fabric–so fitting! A friend made the cute bag at the bottom for her, it’s just too adorable not to share:Cindy2015CollageShelly and I share a ride from Des Moines to Waite Park, about 5 hours in the car (each way). She’s afraid she talks my ear off, but I love the laughs, the sharing, the brainstorming…and she tells the BEST stories. She was working on some top-secret stuff, so not many pics of her work, but she was very productive! I’m still tickled pink that she made us those perpetual journal calendars in the pint box (it’s one of the first projects I ever added to Pinterest and I have YET to make one–don’t need to, now!):Shelly2015CollageStephanie sat next to me this year, I was amazed at how quickly she made the Mini Disco quilt in the Allison Glass fabrics (the back is just as beautiful, photo on bottom right). She worked on a Quick Curve Ruler project as well, a current QAL on the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog.Stephanie2015CollageEach year we make (or “outsource”) happies for each other. Seriously, it’s better than Christmas:Happies4I gave the Cotton & Steel charm packs and scissors key fobs this year, Anna Maria Dresden coaster from Terri, Perpetual Journal Calendar & flashlight from Shelly, Egg Cup pincushion from Mary, Work in Progress bag and pattern, and mini-charms from Amanda, fabric tray and chocolate from Michelle, Her OWN honey and “Sew Sisters” bag from Stephanie (and fresh Michigan blueberries!), License plate basket from Cindy, and Mug and mini-charms from Rene.

Every year I come home feeling recharged and inspired–Love my Grubers gals!

Sometimes late is better than never…

In early 2014, Lynne put out a call for a challenge to be published in Fat Quarterly magazine (Issue #17, late Spring 2014) using mini-charms from Moda. I emailed her my idea, and she sent me two mini-charm packs of Zen Chic’s Sphere collection. She mailed them from England, they were returned to her once, and re-sent, and finally, weeks later they arrived in Iowa! But then, my life fell apart, cancer took my husband’s life — and for a very long time I didn’t even know which way was up.

Lynne was of course very understanding that my project wasn’t completed in time for the publication. But I was determined to finish it. In the meantime, my Mom and I had made an impromptu stop at Ikea and I found a table runner that SCREAMED Spring, and just happened to be the exact same colors as Brigitte’s Sphere fabric collection. So I scrapped the original idea I had proposed to Lynne, and started making small half-square triangles and randomly piecing mini charms and HSTs together in two long strips.

I appliqued the strips onto the long edges of the Ikea table runner, leaving about an inch of the white background visible along each edge:

TableRunner2

I didn’t want a dark binding to take away from the bright colors, or draw the eye away from the floral center, so I made a faux-flange binding using a Moda blue floral print from my stash with a white binding.TableRunner3

Here it is displayed (LAST MAY!) on the built in buffet in my old house:

TableRunnerI don’t live in the home with the pretty built-in anymore, but I still have my beautiful quarter-sawn oak antique table, and this runner and it’s bright Spring colors still look great and make me feel happy. Not sure why it took me 11 months to get this project on the blog; I finished it at the end of May… I think it just fell through the cracks.

Late is, indeed, better than never.

Happy sewing,

Doris

National Quilting Day

Yes, there is one, it was yesterday… and it’s no joke. Quilting isn’t just your grandma’s past-time anymore… Today, quilting is a $3.58 billion industry in the United States with 21.3 million quilters, nationwide. 14% of U.S. households are home to at least one active quilter.

The internet has contributed to the explosion of this industry, through on-line shopping, but also by connecting quilters from all areas of the globe. I have quilting friends in India, the U.K., Australia, mainland Europe & Asia. I’ve met some in person, many I’ve gotten to know through my blog (as well as their’s) and through email and social media. I know my family, friends and co-workers think I’m nuts when I get excited for a weekend that I plan to spend quilting. They just. don’t. get. it. But these quilt retreat weekends have been some of the best weekends of my life.

In the summer of 2010, I took a giant leap of faith (for an introverted homebody like myself, anyway) and met up with a dozen quilt bloggers from all over the United States, at Grubers Retreat Center in St. Cloud, MN.  We hit it off, and had so much fun, we made the weekend an annual event! Every July, we trek to Minnesota from Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Florida and California for a weekend with fellow quilters that became instant friends five years ago. It’s a shame we don’t all live in the same neighborhood.

Group1This is the group that gave me this quilt last year at our retreat. We keep extending a little more time to the weekend each year, because three days together is just not enough.  In July 2014, we were missing Shelly from Missouri and Michelle from Georgia. However, Michelle paid us a visit via FaceTime and her sister’s iPad:

FaceTimeMichelleWe have a lot of fun chatting, laughing, eating good food, drinking (occasionally), sharing, learning from one another… it’s sort of like a slumber party for grown-ups. We even manage to get some sewing done:

CollageCindy

Cindy worked with these gorgeous shot cottons and she made a Sew Together Bag along with Stephanie and Terri.CollageTerri

Terri sewed with beautiful Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent fabrics all weekend–stunning! She also brought me a box of Sandi Henderson fabrics that I need to get around to playing with one of these days! CollageStephanie

Stephanie was working on a Tula Pink quilt kit that turned out wonderfully. She also brought her quilt from last year back for show-n-tell (bottom right pic). These are the Sew Together Bags that Cindy, Terri and Stephanie completed over the weekend:

CollageSewTogetherBagsCollageAmandaAmanda was playing with a new fabric line (which I cannot recall the name of!) and of course, her giant scrap basket she brings along each year!

CollageDoris

I worked a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new book, and I have to admit it hasn’t made much progress since that July weekend. The fabric collection is Vintage Summer for Blend Fabrics (something I saw at Quilt Market in KC and could not pass up!!!)CollageToniToni (who never really took to blogging) finished up a top she had worked on the year before, such bright and cheerful colors!

CollageRene

Rene worked on piecing her Quilting Bee blocks together–a fabulous quilt! (I love the contradiction of technology at Rene’s workstation!) 😉CollageMaryMary always produces like crazy at these retreats–she finished the Plus quilt top, and made a pretty good dent in the Heather Ross apple core quilt. (it’s the backdrop in our group photo above). The beautiful Marcelle Medallion (top left) is what she brought for show-n-tell.

We also have a tradition of exchanging “happies” at these retreats, just a little something for no reason but to make someone happy.

2014HappiesCollageTerri gave us each notecards with her own graphic design on them, Cindy made us giant pincushions with storage pockets, Mary made us patchwork bags and homemade caramels (yum!), Toni and I gave everyone a matching towel/potholder set, Rene made us journals and we all got a flamingo FQ from her, Amanda’s happy included a spool of Aurifil and the adorable little “happy” flags, and Stephanie gave us each a mini duffle–adorable.

Each year we talk about how a long weekend isn’t long enough, and we need to have a winter retreat, too. Maybe one year we will get that organized… but this year, three of us had a mini-retreat, meeting in Brunswick, MO (home of the giant Pecan) in early December:

GiantPecanShellySteph

That would be Shelly and Stephanie showing some love to the pecan.PecanMarker

This was the weekend I finished piecing the quilt tops I started in October. We sewed and stayed in the Sew Sweet Quit Shop Retreat Center (which I HIGHLY recommend). Stephanie and I also had the pleasure of attending the Pecan Valley Quilt Guild holiday party with Shelly–they are such a fun group, we had a great time. StephDorisShellyI very much enjoyed getting to see some of these friends in between July retreats! There is always the possibility of a winter retreat in California or Florida, too. 😉

Keeping my fingers crossed that this July all TEN of us will be able to be together again! Counting down the days…

Happy sewing,

Doris

 

Pillow Talk

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had several catch-up posts to write… this post contains two fairly recent projects, one made in November and the other in early December.

The Des Moines MQG meets once a month, January-November, and our November meeting is always a party with a holiday themed swap. I typically come up with a plan and execute it in the eleventh hour–why mess with tradition? I was inspired by this cute Winter city scape fabric in my stash, so two nights before the party, I started making a reverse applique snowflake, and added some big-stitch quilting around the edges of the snowflake:

Full1

Detail

Marny took my pillow home and added it to her collection… I won this cute Heather Ross postage stamp embroidery hoop by Crystal:

HRHoopFromCrystal

Here is our post-swap group photo with everyone holding what they won (our  junior members, in front, organized a private swap between the two of them):

DSMMQGHolidaySwap2014

A few weeks later, I made a Glimmer pillow using the sidekick ruler as a shop sample for Woodside Quilting (They have kits for this pillow available if you are interested). The medallion is six different batiks, the background is Carolyn Friedlander’s Cross Hatch from her Botanics line:

Glimmer Pillow 1

I basically made this in a day; I was impressed at how quickly it went together–a well written pattern with excellent illustrations. It is put together with six triangular segments:

Glimmer Segments

Couldn’t resist taking a few photos of it in the fresh snow since it looks like a snowflake or snow crystals to me:

Glimmer Pillow 2

This one shows the straight line quilting a little better:

Glimmer Detail 2

This past weekend I attended our DSMMQG Sewing Day and started recovering some cushions for a vintage camper my stepdaughter and her boyfriend recently purchased. It’s not the most exciting sewing project, so I was glad I had friends around to chat with while I started to tackle it.

Happy Sewing,

Doris

Freelance Adventures

Occasionally, I have the opportunity to work on projects outside of my University job and my quilt pattern design business, that utilize my editorial skills or some other skill in my toolbox. In Fall 2013, I edited quilt patterns for a magazine publication, and the patterns for Mary Fons upcoming book. In the publishing world, one works on projects so far in advance, that it’s a fun reminder to see them again when they become reality! Her book will finally be released in May…

Make + Love Quilts By Mary Fons

(Click on the book cover to go to Amazon and have a look see inside!)

Working with Mary was a treat; we corresponded mostly via email, once or twice by phone I think. She’s full of joy and enthusiasm and it’s nearly impossible for some of that to not rub off on you. Here’s the video she shared about promoting her new book in NYC:

Mary Fons Book Promotional Video No. 1 from Mary Fons on Vimeo.

So proud of her finishing this book and I’m looking forward to holding it in my hands. Congratulations, Mary!

I also made a quilt recently for another freelance project, my sweetie said it might be his favorite of all the quilts I’ve made (not sure what appealed to him, but he does like vintage and this is made from 30s prints and Moda shirtings) I never did get a great photo of it, but this gives you an idea of the project…

IMG_3958

Maybe one day I’ll be able to make a living with the pattern design and freelance work. I’d be thrilled to work from home. However, giving up those full-time benefits would not be easy. Until then, I’ll continue to be grateful for my job and the great people I get to work with.

Happy sewing,

Doris

Cheetahs, and Bears, and Owls — oh my!

A year ago in December, I showed you this Baby Cheetah Onesie that I made as a shower gift for a friend’s baby. I also showed you my process for making these in that post.

Baby Cheetah Onesie

This year, I can show you a photo of pretty Olivia wearing her onesie:

Olivia wearing Onesie

Her mommy asked if I’d make her a 1st birthday onesie to wear with a purple tutu on her special day. So, I made her two!

Olivia's Onesies

The quilt that Olivia is sitting in front of in the photo above is from Pottery Barn Kids and has appliqued owls on it, which I used to model my owl on. And the cupcake onesie was just for fun–

Another friend asked me to make this for a new granddaughter, born mid-November (her Daddy is a major Chicago Bears fan), she wanted a Bears logo but with a “cute, baby bear” instead:

Chicago Bears Onesie & Logo

I hope I achieved that; she seemed to be happy with it. It started out like this, a light pencil sketch on the onesie… and then a apply fabric paint before any applique pieces:

Bears Onesie_Start

A detail of the finished “baby logo”:

Chicago Bears Onesie Detail

Disclaimer: This was a custom design request by an individual; I am not mass-producing these items for sale or marketing. The Chicago Bears logo is an NFL officially licensed design.