Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Almost-Ambrosia" Pleated Bag

I used these vibrant fabrics designed by Josephine Kimberling for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, accented with Kona solids, to test out my free pleated bag pattern, which will be available in September when Ambrosia ships to stores. I love including alternative colorways in sewing patterns and one can never have enough beautiful bags. I can't wait to try it in Ambrosia prints!

Bags aren't very useful when held upside down, but I wish they were, because I really like the bottom of this bag as well - the contrasting fabric that matches the bag handles gives it more interest and I like how the straps frame that area. So, yes, I am posting a picture of the bottom of a bag...

Check back in September for the pattern.
Hope that everyone is enjoying their summer!


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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mimosa and Curved Seam Templates

We spent some time today experimenting with Fons and Porter's Curved Seam Templates. Pictured are some blocks made out of Mimosa fabrics, by Robert Kaufman. Our daughter thinks they would make a great set of summertime placemats. Hmmmm.

I think that is a good idea!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Test Kitchen

Things are really heating up here in the test kitchen/sewing studio, as we anticipate the release of Ambrosia, which will be in stores in September. I will be receiving a small advance shipment in just a couple of weeks, and I have some special free patterns that will debut here, along with some other projects that will be featured in magazines. (How exciting is that? I feel incredibly fortunate.)

So, amid the flurry of drawing and pattern writing, I am testing some of the patterns. It is always good to show people projects in alternative color ways. Can you guess what we are making from these delicious prints by Josephine Kimberling for Robert Kaufman Fabrics?

Well, if you guessed a bag you are correct! The pleated pockets are accented with Kona solids, also by Robert Kaufman.

I will release this pattern in September so that it will be available when Ambrosia hits stores, right in time for back-to-school.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010


While we were away in Virginia, we took a short trip up to Delaware to visit Winterthur, the home of Henry Dupont. I had heard about it before but never been there. INCREDIBLE!!! Henry Dupont devoted his life to collecting American decorative arts. Always envisioning his house as a museum of decorative arts for the public, he fully furnished 195 rooms with hundreds of thousands of American antiques, before their value was fully realized by the public as a whole. For instance, he saved a southern plantation home that was slated for demolition. Not only did he restore all the woodwork to use on walls, doorways, and mantels, he used the facade to line a wall of what was once his badminten court, creating an indoor street of sorts. Then he installed the spiral staircase in his main foyer as a surprise for his family while they were on vacation. Can you even imagine being inspired by a new spiral staircase? (We were surprised by our lack of air conditioning upon returning home from a trip, but not a spiral staircase!)

Overall I was struck by the fearlessness of the 18th century artists in terms of color and scale. While the they were heavily influenced by both French and English styles, there is a joyousness and levity in their designs that was distinctly American... much like exuberance of the quilts one sees today.

And I didn't even mention the gardens, which Dupont valued as highly as the antiques. Dupont was a pioneer in natural landscaping that is popular today. There are hundreds of acres of gardens, including everything from bucolic meadows...

... to formal gardens. Here are my mom and I, with the house in the background, taken by her friend Marilyn.

A beautiful day!

North Carolina Quilt Symposium - Part 2

Now that we arrived back home (to a house with no air conditioning, no less - it is REALLY warm here and we are hoping for relief soon), I thought I would post some pictures from the North Carolina Quilt Symposium that I wrote about earlier.

Aren't quilters such creative people?

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Floral Fling Patterns and the North Carolina Quilt Symposium

This past weekend I ran through the North Carolina Quilt Symposium. "Ran" is a pretty accurate description of what happened because I was in the middle of shuttling children to almost continuous ballet rehearsals. I was so pleased to find two of my favorite vendors sharing a room: Quilter's Gallery and Overall Quilter. Quilter's Gallery used to have a lovely bricks and mortar store in the heart of Charlotte and now has some great kits and classes online. Overall Quilter is launching an exciting new online venture. Aimee, the owner, was debuting a lovely line of new batik applique wall quilts called "Floral Fling" . BEAUTIFUL!!! Go take a look.

I also met a great new mother/daughter team, Elizabeth and Jenna of Grand Bazaar Fabrics. They had a lovely display of colorful prints and kits. You must check them out...

We are on the road this week, so this is a picture-less post. Lots of new patterns in development. Have a beautiful start to your summer!


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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Introducing.... "Ambrosia"

I am very pleased to introduce "Ambrosia", my first line of quilting fabrics for Robert Kaufman. I just got the strike-offs this week and wanted to give you a sneak peek. The fabrics WILL NOT BE IN QUILT SHOPS UNTIL SEPTEMBER, but I will be creating some special patterns for them this summer to debut in the fall, so check back in.

Without further ado, here is Ambrosia...

Summer Color Story

Spring Color Story

The Buttercup fabric that is pictured here with the Spring grouping (big yellow circles with tiny flowers in between) actually coordinates with both families. The families can be mixed and matched as well.

I am excited. I'll have to have someone pinch me to make sure they are real! (But not if the volunteer is a nine year old boy who goes by the nickname "Bob.")

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Batgirl's Bag, Part II

The work on Batgirl's bag continues.

I pieced the outside panels and made the pleated pockets. I then spread the panels on top of a layer of muslin and quilt batting. All set to quilt!

A few thoughts about quilting... Machine quilting is something that takes practice, like riding the bicycle. (Or so I hear, because I still can't ride a bicycle.) For your first project, pick something small where the quilting will be unobtrusive. Use a relatively busy print - mistakes are more obvious on solids. This bag is a good project to try because it is lined, so you can use matching thread in the bobbin and no one will see your messy back or the threads that might pop to one side from time to time. Keep a quilt "sandwich" made of scraps beside you to "warm up" and experiment with.

I love the symmetrical, intricate designs on traditional quilts, but my ability to follow exactly along marked lines is not what I'd like it to be. For me, quilting along marked lines takes some of the joy out of the process. If you are learning, sometimes it is easier to just "wing it". For this bag, I let the big flower motifs dictate the pattern. Instead of following them precisely, I quilted circles surrounded by big petals. In the area with the fern print, I quilted large fern-like leaves and filled in the with stippling. (You want to keep the amount of quilting realtively even throughout the design.) Here are the front and bag of the panels so you can see the quilting clearly, flaws and all:

If there were quilting police, they would surely arrest me, but I did have fun.

Another thing - threads and needles. Use high-quality thread and a relatively new needle - if you don't the thread may break, and constantly starting and stopping is really frustrating. I usually swear by Mettler silk-finish thread for all sewing. Recently, I picked up a spool of Superior Threads Masterpiece Egytian cotton by Alex Anderson from Ye Olde Forest Quilt Shop in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I am in love. It is a dream to quilt with, even at rapid speeds. Happy quilting, everyone!


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